Can Someone Get a Restraining Order Without Notice to Me?
If a New Jersey police officer knocks on your door and hands you a packet of information regarding a domestic violence restraining order, you might be in shock wondering what to do next. Statistics from Stop Abusive and Violent Practices (SAVE) reveal that you are not alone in questioning how such a scenario could happen to you. Every year, 1.5 million temporary restraining orders (TROs) based upon false or misleading accusations are issued by courts across the US. Many people in your position are dumbfounded as they review the paperwork, questioning how an accuser could take such harsh legal action without notice.
The short answer is that state laws allow issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) under certain circumstances, and you need to be proactive about the next steps. The first priority is retaining a New Jersey domestic violence lawyer who will defend your rights and can respond to frequently asked questions, such as:
Why did I not receive notice of the TRO before I received the paperwork? The domestic violence laws of New Jersey allow a person to obtain a TRO by filing a petition that states facts warranting protection from the courts. The petitioner needs to allege under oath that an act of domestic violence was committed against him or her and that he or she is in imminent danger of injury or other harm. A judge may grant the TRO order without the usual legal requirement of notifying the person alleged to have committed the domestic violence act since doing so could result in retaliation against the petitioner (called the plaintiff) before a full hearing. At the same time, the terms of the order are temporary because you were not able to defend yourself or plead your case to the judge when the plaintiff was applying for the TRO.
Who can get a temporary restraining order against me? A petitioner can obtain a TRO against almost anyone with whom he or she has a personal relationship, including:
- A current or former spouse;
- A housemate;
- Children or parents;
- A person in a dating or sexual relationship; and,
- A co-parent, regardless of marriage.
What does a TRO prohibit? A protective order can make many types of conduct unlawful and will include a prohibition on contacting the plaintiff, his or her family members, or going to the plaintiff’s residence or place of work. It also prohibits third parties from contacting the plaintiff on the defendant’s behalf. The TRO may also prevent you from exercising child custody or visitation rights. Finally, it will preclude you from possessing a firearms identification card and weapons such as guns, knives, and bows and arrows, even if those weapons are used solely for hunting.
How long will the TRO remain in place? A protective order is issued without notice to you, so it can only be in effect for such time as you are allowed to appear in court. New Jersey law requires that the next hearing be held within 10 days after the TRO was issued. If after the court hearing the TRO is turned into a Final Restraining Order, it lasts forever or until the plaintiff withdraws it or you make an application to the court to dissolve it after the passage of time.
Should I appear for the court hearing? It is critical that you attend the court date listed on your TRO documents and retain an attorney to represent you. If you fail to appear, the judge could make the terms of the TRO permanent.
Get More Answers from a New Jersey Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
It is understandable if you are confused, frustrated, or frightened about your situation. The time is now to take prompt action to protect your interests. At the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, we are prepared to tackle the tough legal challenges in defending your rights, so please contact our office right away. You can set up an initial consultation by calling (856) 310-9800 or checking us out online.