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What Happens at a Final Restraining Order (FRO) Hearing?

When someone has filed a domestic violence complaint against you, the court will issue a temporary restraining order against you and schedule a final restraining order hearing. Assuming that the case has not been dismissed or otherwise resolved between you and the plaintiff, the family part of the superior court will hold an FRO hearing. An FRO hearing functions much like a civil trial. However, FRO hearings are decided by a judge, not a jury. In order to issue a final restraining order, the judge will need to find two elements:

  1. A predicate act of domestic violence has occurred.
  2. A final restraining order is necessary for the plaintiff’s protection.

The plaintiff bears the burden of proof on both elements and must present evidence and witnesses in support of his or her claim for an FRO. A plaintiff must meet the “preponderance of the evidence” burden of proof. In other words, he or she must prove it is more likely than not that the allegations are true. You will have the opportunity to review the plaintiff’s evidence and cross-examine witnesses. You will also have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses of your own, whom the plaintiff may also choose to cross-examine. If the judge finds that the plaintiff has met his or her burden of proof on both elements, the trial court will issue the final restraining order. You should not go into an FRO hearing without an experienced attorney on your side. If you have an FRO issued against you, you will be fingerprinted and listed on a domestic violence registry. You will also lose your right to carry a firearm. Schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a domestic violence attorney from The Law Office of Jason A. Volet to learn more about your legal options now.

What Is the Difference Between a Restraining Order and a Final Restraining Order?

A “restraining order” typically refers to the temporary restraining order (TRO) that is often issued by the trial court when the plaintiff files his or her domestic violence complaint. The defendant against whom the TRO is issued is not entitled to be heard by the trial court or present evidence before the TRO is issued. In addition, a trial court may order as part of the TRO that any weapons belonging to the defendant be seized by law enforcement. The trial court is required to hold a hearing within 10 days of issuing a TRO to determine whether to issue a final restraining order. The defendant is entitled to be heard and present a defense at the FRO hearing. If the court determines it necessary, it will issue an FRO, which makes the protections of the temporary restraining order permanent.

How Long Does a Final Restraining Order Last?

An FRO lasts until the victim either requests the court lift the order, or the defendant files an application to terminate the order and proves that the FRO is no longer needed for the plaintiff’s protection. In both cases, the court will likely order a hearing to determine whether to lift the FRO.

What Happens If the FRO Is Violated?

A defendant who violates an FRO may do so inadvertently, or he or she may violate the terms of the order in response to contact from the plaintiff. If you have an FRO entered against you, you should remember that the FRO is the court’s order, not the plaintiff’s order. So you should ignore any efforts by the plaintiff to initiate contact with you, as responding to those efforts constitutes a violation of the FRO. If you violate the terms of your FRO, you can be charged with criminal contempt, which is normally charged as a disorderly persons offense. However, if you are accused of committing a separate criminal offense while violating the FRO (such as stalking or harassing the plaintiff), you can be charged with a fourth-degree crime. You can also be charged with the separate criminal offense.

Can a Person Go to Jail for Violating a Final Restraining Order in New Jersey?

Yes. Criminal contempt for violating an FRO can result in a disorderly persons conviction that can carry a sentence of up to six months in jail. If you committed a separate criminal offense in violating your FRO, you can be convicted of a fourth-degree crime, which carries a potential sentence of up to 18 months in prison. You could face additional penalties if you are convicted of the separate criminal charge. Many domestic violence crimes are charged as third- and second-degree crimes, which carry sentences of three to five years and five to 10 years, respectively.

Can an FRO Be Appealed?

Yes. If you believe that the trial court committed an error of fact or law in issuing a FRO against you, you have the right to appeal the trial court’s decision to the appellate division. In addition, after time has passed and you believe the plaintiff no longer requires an FRO for protection, you can file an application with the issuing court to have the FRO lifted.

Does an FRO Show Up on Someone’s Record in NJ?

Yes. Once you have an FRO issued against you, you will be fingerprinted, and your information placed into the state domestic violence registry. This registry is accessible by a wide variety of law enforcement agencies and background search services. As a result, having an FRO issued against you can impact your ability to secure employment or housing and cause delays and issues with travel, especially at the airport. If you’ve had a final restraining order taken out against you and you have questions about your rights, obligations, and legal options, contact The Law Office of Jason A. Volet today. Our restraining order attorney can review your case and answer your questions in a free and confidential consultation.

How to Vacate a Restraining Order in NJ

When a court imposes a restraining order against you, it can impose hardships on many areas of your life – from family relationships to your job. Even if you think you did nothing wrong or you have significantly changed your life since the court’s decision, a restraining order can have far-reaching consequences.

However, a restraining order doesn’t have to ruin your life. In many circumstances, you can file to have a New Jersey restraining order modified, revoked, or vacated.

Can a Final Restraining Order be Vacated?

If you have a final restraining order against you, it doesn’t necessarily have to be permanent. This order can be vacated in one of two ways in New Jersey. You should understand that vacating is different from appealing an order, which involves a claim that the court shouldn’t have issued the restraining order to begin with. On the other hand, a motion to vacate a restraining order happens when something has changed and the order is no longer needed.

The first way to vacate is that a victim can voluntarily ask the court to vacate the restraining order. This often happens in circumstances, such as:

  • The defendant and the victim want to get back together.
  • The victim forgives the defendant or is no longer afraid of him or her.
  • The victim has children with the defendant.

Alternatively, if you have a final restraining order against you, you can petition to vacate the order if you can prove “good cause,” according to New Jersey law. Once you provide evidence to show you have good cause to vacate your order, the court will weigh this evidence, as well as any disputes to your claim, in order to decide whether to grant your request.

How Will the Judge Decide Whether to Vacate the Restraining Order?

In deciding whether to vacate a final protection order, the court will look at who is filing a request to vacate, the evidence that person presents, as well as a number of factors, including:

  • The current relationship between the victim and the defendant
  • The defendant’s behavior since the court put the order in place, including whether the defendant has violated the order, whether he or she has sought counseling, and whether the person is abusing alcohol or drugs
  • If the victim is acting in good faith when opposing a petition to vacate the order

If the victim is the one requesting that the court vacate the order, the victim will need to speak with a counselor and sign paperwork saying that he or she is acting voluntarily before the court will consider the request.

What If the Victim Opposes Vacating the Restraining Order?

Even if a victim opposes vacating a restraining order, you can still file a successful motion to vacate if you can convince the court that the restraining order is no longer needed. Some types of evidence you might present to support your request include:

  • Actions you have taken since the order was filed against you, such as going to treatment for alcohol or drug abuse
  • Proof that the victim’s attempt to oppose your request to vacate your order is not an act in good faith
  • A lack of additional convictions on your record
  • Times the victim has contacted or tried to contact you, despite the order
  • Proof that you are not a risk to the victim
  • You have children or other family members that you can’t contact because of the order

Why Should I Vacate a Restraining Order in the First Place?

Having a New Jersey restraining order against you often makes life more difficult as long as it remains in effect. While the order is in place, you can face criminal charges with penalties of up to 18 months in jail and as much as $25,000 if you purposely or knowingly violate any of the provisions of your restraining order. For instance, if you do something as simple as texting the person who brought a restraining order against you, it could be considered a criminal offense.

However, vacating this order can help you move on with your life. If the court rules in your favor, it could make it easier for you to conduct daily business, interact with your children and other loved ones, and so much more.

How Will the Carfagno Factors Affect My Motion to Vacate the Restraining Order?

The “Carfagno Factors” are a list of conditions that the court looks at in cases involving restraining orders in New Jersey when considering whether to vacate an order. These factors include:

  • The victim in your case consents to your order being vacated
  • The victim’s reasons for opposing the request
  • Whether the victim is afraid of you
  • Your current relationship with the person who originally filed for the restraining order
  • Whether you have had other violent altercations or an additional restraining order has been placed against you
  • Your age and health
  • Whether you abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Any treatment or counseling you’ve tried
  • Other matters the court decides might be relevant

Talk to a Lawyer About Vacating a Restraining Order Now

If you are considering filing to vacate a restraining order, The Law Office of Jason A. Volet is here to help. With a proven track record of successfully helping defend clients against a range of felonies and misdemeanors, Mr. Volet has the exceptional legal skills you need to help you get your life back on track.

To review your options in regard to your restraining order, call The Law Office of Jason A. Volet right away for your free consultation.

How to Fight a Restraining Order in New Jersey

If you are the target of a temporary restraining order issued by a New Jersey court, you need to act quickly to try to stop a temporary order from becoming a final restraining order. Unless you fight the restraining order, a judge’s final protective order could limit your access to your home and children, deprive you of personal possessions and require you to pay child support.

You should immediately seek experienced legal guidance if you face the threat of someone seeking a restraining order against you. The Law Office of Jason A. Volet in Freehold, NJ, can help you fight the allegations against you and urge the court to deny the request for a final restraining order that limits your freedom.

Contact the Law Office of Jason A. Volet today at 732-491-8477 to learn more about how we can protect your rights.

It’s Easy To Obtain a New Jersey Restraining Order

A restraining order, sometimes called a “protective order,” is a judge’s decree for one person to avoid contact and stay away from another. In New Jersey, restraining orders are issued in response to allegations of domestic violence. They are meant to protect the alleged victim of domestic battery by putting restrictions on the alleged perpetrator, or defendant.

Most requests for temporary restraining orders (TROs) are granted. If a law enforcement officer arrests someone on domestic violence charges, he or she can request a TRO against the defendant. An alleged victim of domestic violence must present some credible evidence of having been assaulted or threatened when asking for a protective order.

Once a TRO has been issued in New Jersey, a police officer must promptly serve the order on the defendant. The officer is required to seize all weapons in the defendant’s possession along with any permit or license allowing the purchase of a gun or firearm.

At the judge’s discretion, a TRO may require that the defendant:

  • Not return to the scene of the alleged violence or other locations, such as the petitioner’s home or workplace
  • Relinquish possession of their home to the petitioner
  • Relinquish temporary custody of children to the petitioner
  • Pay the petitioner temporary child support
  • Not contact or communicate with the petitioner or the petitioner’s relatives in person or via telephone, text, email, or other forms of communication
  • Reimburse the petitioner for any medical expenses for injuries blamed on the defendant.

After the court grants a TRO, it schedules a hearing within 10 days for a judge to decide whether to make the temporary restraining order a final restraining order (FRO). An FRO is effective for up to a year and can be extended afterward.

A defendant will be notified of the hearing. It is imperative to retain an experienced defense lawyer and attend the hearing to oppose an FRO.

What are the Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order?

It is imperative to abide by the restrictions of a TRO or FRO issued in your name. Violating a restraining order is considered contempt of court, a fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you willfully violate a TRO in a violent manner or in a manner that can be interpreted as threatening, you can expect that the petition for a final restraining order will be granted. Restraining order violations may also weigh against you if you face domestic violence charges such as harassment or stalking. Any violations will certainly be cited if the petitioner seeks renewal of an FRO.

How We Can Help You Fight a NJ Restraining Order

While obtaining a temporary order is almost automatic, the petitioner faces a burden of proof to obtain a final restraining order. This includes demonstrating to the satisfaction of the judge that:

  • The defendant committed an act of domestic violence as defined by NJ law against the petitioner, which resulted in the request,
  • The defendant has a history of domestic violence, and
  • The petitioner has a reasonable fear that the defendant will commit future acts of domestic violence against them and/or their juvenile child(ren).

If the petitioner cannot prove these three elements, the judge is required to lift the TRO. As your defense attorney, Jason Volet will challenge the evidence the petitioner presents and seek to raise a reasonable doubt in the judge’s mind.

Domestic violence cases are typically he-said-she-said cases without witnesses. If the petitioner’s testimony in the FRO hearing does not match initial allegations made to obtain the TRO, Mr. Volet will challenge this discrepancy.

Ten days after a highly emotional incident, a petitioner’s recollections could easily lead him or her to embellish the facts or even to walk back previous allegations. Jason Volet will cross examine the petitioner and challenge the authenticity of any physical evidence presented, such as photos or emails, as feasible.

If there are witnesses, Mr. Volet will challenge inconsistencies in any testimony against you and present witnesses with testimony that supports your version of what happened.

In a domestic violence hearing where the facts call for it, the defendant may make a statement of remorse and agree to such conditions as attending anger management classes and/or other counseling. This can support a court’s decision to lift an FPO or issue a final order with fewer restrictions.

Attorney Jason Volet is a skilled and compassionate negotiator experienced with domestic violence cases of all kinds. He can reach out to your petitioner, if appropriate, to discuss the impact of an FRO on your life – and your children’s lives – and seek an alternative resolution to the complaint against you.

If the judge issues an FRO against you, we will immediately begin to explore whether there were errors made during the hearing to serve as a basis for your appeal. We would have 45 days to file an appeal.

In summary, Jason Volet will make sure your side of the story receives a fair hearing. He will closely examine all evidence against you to expose its shortcomings before the court. Because of his experience as a New Jersey domestic violence defense attorney and the professional relationships he has in Freehold and Monmouth County courts, Jason A. Volet can ensure you are fairly heard. He will fight to obtain the best possible resolution to your case.

Contact the Law Office of Jason A. Volet for more information. Phone 732-491-8477 or visit our office located at 28 Court Street, Freehold, NJ 07728.

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