180’s Court Liaison Program: Information on Restraining Orders
What Is A Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a court order signed by a judge telling a defendant to have no further contact with the plaintiff, or victim, either in person, by phone, electronic devices, or mail (regular or email).
A temporary order is issued ex parte (meaning on the plaintiff’s sworn testimony only). A final hearing will be held within ten days to give the accused the opportunity to defend her or himself.
Some of the reliefs or decisions you may be granted with your restraining order are as follows:
- exclusive possession of your residence
- temporary custody of your children and a mandated child visitation schedule
- emergency child support and living/ housing expenses
- court-ordered substance abuse evaluations and/or domestic violence counseling
Who Can Get a Restraining Order?
You qualify for a restraining order if you have been the target of domestic violence* and the following two conditions apply:
- you have shared one of the following relationships with the accused: dating, residing together, married, divorced or have had children together.
- the accused is 18 years of age or older (unless you have a child in common).
If your request for a restraining order is denied, you may still obtain relief and protection through the criminal code.
A judge will decide if there is jurisdiction to grant you a restraining order, after questioning you about your relationship with the accused and considering all the facts. Remember, if you are afraid or believe you are in danger, you should not hesitate to ask for protection.
*Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior in which one person uses a variety of tactics, both physical and emotional, to gain and maintain power and control over his/her partner. Under the law, the following is considered domestic violence:
- terroristic threats
- criminal mischief
- false imprisonment
- sexual assault
- criminal trespass
- criminal restraint
- criminal sexual contact
Where Do You Apply For A Restraining Order?
- Weekdays, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm , at the family reception office in the east wing basement of the Monmouth County Superior Court in Freehold, N.J.
- After 3:30 pm Weekdays, Weekends & Holidays , contact any NJ police department & request that they call a municipal court judge to take testimony over the phone.
When the temporary restraining order is issued, you will be given a date and time to return to the court for a final hearing. The defendant will also be given notice to appear at that time.
What If I Have Never Been Hit Or Beaten?
Domestic violence is a crime that encompasses more than physical abuse under the law-it includes emotional, mental, and sexual abuse as well.
All too often, victims of domestic violence will minimize the emotional/mental abuse that they have suffered and are not aware that they are entitled to help from the courts, police, and counseling centers. You may be granted a restraining order under the law for the emotional/mental abuse you have endured if it includes:
- Harassment : shoving, pushing, or other offensive touching. Name calling and/or language used to alarm, offend, or annoy. Purposely intimidating behavior to instill fear or alarm.
- Criminal Mischief : damaging, breaking, or destroying personal property or purposely or recklessly causing damage to property to endanger another person
- Terroristic Threats : threats of physical violence or death with the intention of causing fear and/or dictating the victim’s behavior.
When Does The Restraining Order Take Effect?
Until a defendant is “served,” the restraining order is not enforceable, meaning that the defendant cannot be held accountable for violating (or disobeying) the order.
Local law enforcement is responsible for service. Never attempt to serve the defendant yourself. When the defendant receives the restraining order, they will know what your allegations against them are, and they will know what restrictions have been placed on them. The date and time of the final hearing will also be on the order.
Once service has been “effected,” that is the defendant has received the order, the defendant can be arrested and charged with a crime for any contact with you.
Do I Need To Bring Anything With Me To The Final Hearing?
Bring any documentation you have regarding the domestic violence incident.
- Eyewitnesses to the event must come in person. Written or taped testimony is not admissible.
- Admissible evidence includes: Any letters, answering machine tapes, voice mail recordings, cards, emails, text messages, photographs of injuries or property damage
You may ask to be compensated for any medical expenses or property damage you incurred.