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Criminal Law: Defense Against Restraining Order Violations

Fighting Your  Arrest with a New Jersey Restraining Order Law Firm

Under New Jersey law, there are a number of different reasons why you may have a restraining order entered against you. This includes being accused of domestic violence, as well as being convicted of stalking, sexual assault and other similar types of offenses. If you have been charged with violating a restraining order, it is important to hire an experienced New Jersey restraining order law firm to defend you.

As the subject of a restraining order, you are bound to strictly comply with the terms of the order. Regardless of what you may personally believe about the validity of the order or the unreasonableness of the restrictions it imposes, you must comply unless and until the order is lifted. Violating a restraining order is a criminal offense under Section 2C:29-9 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes, and a conviction under Section 2C:29-9 can have drastic consequences.

What Constitutes a Restraining Order Violation?

If you have had a restraining order entered against you under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act or any other New Jersey statute, you must strictly comply with the terms of the order. If you deviate from the terms of your restraining order in any respect, you can be charged with a restraining order violation under Section 2C:29-9.

Restraining orders can prohibit various types of conduct, and the terms of your restraining order will determine whether you are at risk for being convicted of a violation. With that said, some common examples of restraining order violations include:

  • Engaging in acts of violence or domestic violence
  • Being in a location (or within a certain proximity of a location) where you are not allowed to be
  • Harassing the individual who is protected by the order
  • Attempting to contact the person who is protected by the order (including contacting them via text or social media)
  • Possessing a firearm or other weapon

In addition to prohibiting certain conduct, in many cases, restraining orders will impose affirmative obligations as well. If you fail to attend counseling or therapy, fail to provide financial support, or fail to do anything else required by your restraining order, you could potentially be prosecuted for a violation. A permanent restraining order can significantly affect your custody and visitation rights immediately and in the future. Regardless of the specific issue involved, you should consult with a New Jersey restraining order lawyer promptly to protect yourself.

Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order in New Jersey

Depending on the specific circumstances involved, a restraining order violation can be prosecuted as either a disorderly persons offense, a fourth-degree indictable offense or a third-degree indictable offense. Potential penalties include:

  • Third-Degree Indictable Crimes – Three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Fourth-Degree Indictable Crimes – Up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Most restraining order violations constitute fourth-degree indictable offenses. A restraining order violation may be prosecuted as a disorderly persons offense if the violation does not involve conduct that itself constitutes a crime (such as failing to attend counseling required pursuant to a domestic violence restraining order). Third-degree charges are possible in cases involving restraining orders entered in relation to stalking convictions under Section 2C:12-10.1 or Section 2C:12-10.2 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes, or pursuant to comparable provisions of other states’ criminal codes.

Defending Against Allegations of Violating a Restraining Order

Due to the potential for severe penalties, if you have been charged with violating a restraining order in New Jersey, it is critical that you hire an experienced defense attorney to protect you. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our attorneys may be able to protect you by asserting defenses such as:

  • Lack of Purpose or Knowledge – Under Section 2C:29-9, you are only guilty of violating a restraining order if you do so, “purposely or knowingly.” If we can show that you did not purposely violate your restraining order, or that you did not knowingly do so, then we may be able to protect you against a criminal conviction.
  • False Accusations – Just as domestic violence cases often arise from false accusations, alleged restraining order violations may result from false accusations as well.
  • No Violation – If you did not actually violate your restraining order (either because your conduct was not prohibited or you did not engage in the conduct alleged), then you do not deserve to be penalized.
  • Constitutional Protections – If the police violated your constitutional rights (for example, by conducting an unreasonable search or seizure), we may be able to use this to keep key evidence out of your case and prevent a conviction.

FAQs: Defending Against Restraining Order Violation Charges in New Jersey

What should I do if I have been charged with violating a restraining order in New Jersey?

If you have been charged with violating a restraining order, you should speak with a defense lawyer as soon as possible. You are facing fines and jail or prison time, and you need to make sure you do everything possible to protect yourself and preserve your future.

What if I didn’t realize I was violating my restraining order?

While it is a defense to an alleged restraining order violation that you did not knowingly or purposefully violate the order, the prosecution is going to argue that there is no way you didn’t know what your order said. As a result, if you genuinely did not realize you were violating your restraining order, you will need to work with an experienced attorney who can effectively present this defense on your behalf.

What if I have been falsely accused of violating my restraining order?

Unfortunately, false accusations of restraining order violations are common, especially in cases involving domestic violence allegations. If you have been falsely accused, your lawyer can investigate the circumstances involved and determine what evidence is available to disprove your charge. You may even be able to file a restraining order against the person filing the false charges.

How can a New Jersey restraining order lawyer help me if I’m in violation?

Even if you knowingly and purposely violated your restraining order, you could still have several defenses available. To find out what our New Jersey restraining order lawyers can do to protect you, schedule a free initial consultation today.

Discuss Your Situation With a New Jersey Restraining Order Law Firm in Confidence

To discuss your situation with a trained New Jersey restraining order lawyer, please call 877-435-6371 or contact us online. We will arrange for you to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in confidence as soon as possible.

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