In a series of posts, we've been examining the scope of New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, including how it defines this criminal offense, who is protected by its provisions and, most recently, the circumstances in which law enforcement officials are required to make an arrest.
We'll continue this ongoing effort in today's post, examining more about how domestic violence restraining orders are granted and what they mean for both sides.
Temporary Restraining Orders
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act permits those parties identified by law enforcement as potential victims of domestic violence to file not only a criminal complaint against the alleged offender, but also a civil complaint.
This is significant, as a civil complaint will ultimately go before a judge or Domestic Violence Hearing Officer who will determine whether it falls within the guidelines for domestic violence established by the state.
If they determine that it does, the accuser will be issued what is known as a temporary restraining order -- or TRO -- which is essentially an ex-parte order (i.e., one that's issued without waiting for a response from the other side) that subjects the accused to certain conditions, including:
- Prohibiting them from returning to the scene of the incident
- Prohibiting them from possessing firearms or other deadly weapons
- Requiring a search by law enforcement of any place where the judge has reason to believe a firearm or deadly weapon might be located, and, if one is indeed located, mandating its seizure
It's important to note that subsequent to the issuance of a TRO 1) a copy will immediately be served upon the accused, and 2) a final hearing on the matter will be scheduled within ten days.
We'll conclude our discussion of this topic in a future post, exploring what occurs at the final hearing and the potential punishment for violations of a domestic violence restraining order.
Until then, if you have been charged with domestic violence, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to protect your rights, your record and your reputation.