What Are the Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order in New Jersey?

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Restraining orders are civil court orders that outline rules for a person to abide by. The person being served has likely been harassing, stalking, or harming a person to the extent that they have decided to request a protection order. Restraining orders are important and allow a victim of harassment to feel safe knowing that their abuser cannot legally get close enough to harm them. Unfortunately, the system is not perfect and sometimes these orders are disregarded. Violating a restraining order can result in severe consequences. Speak with an experienced Mercer County criminal defense lawyer for assistance in your restraining order case today.

What Does a Restraining Order Do?

In New Jersey, there are two types of restraining orders, temporary and permanent. Depending on your situation these orders can offer a strong layer of protection. There are various types of provisions included in a restraining order. Because everyone’s situation is different, every restraining order will be customized to fit the individual needs of the person requesting it. Some examples of orders that might be included in a restraining order include the following.

  • The offender cannot contact or harass the victim
  • The offender cannot get within a certain physical distance of the victim, usually 50 to 100 yards
  • Award temporary custody of children
  • Outline financial support
  • Require the offender to attend therapy or counseling
  • Require the offender to move out of shared housing

If the offender violates any of the above while the restraining order is in effect, they can be charged with contempt. For example, if they attempt to contact the victim with phone calls or sending threatening messages they are violating their orders. If they show up to the victim’s home or knowingly approach them in public getting closer than is allowed they can also be charged and face penalties.

What Happens if You’re Caught Violating a Restraining Order?

People who are given a restraining order are not criminals, since the act of being served does not go on the criminal record. Issuing restraining orders is a civil matter. However, when someone decides to disregard the rules of the restraining order it becomes a criminal issue. Violating a restraining order is a crime in New Jersey and is punishable by the following penalties.

First violation or disorderly person offense:

  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Serve up to 6 months in jail

Second violation or fourth-degree crime:

  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days and up to 18 months in jail

Any violation can also be accompanied by various penalties. If convicted you may be required to complete mandatory community service hours, attend counseling, and pay additional fines. The terms of your restraining order may also be altered and made more strict.

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