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Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order

Posted by Carmine R. Villani | Jun 23, 2014 | 0 Comments


A restraining order is an order that is issued by a court with the primary purpose to protect one person from another person.  A restraining order prohibits the party it is entered against from contacting or communicating with the individual on whose behalf the order is entered. There are serious penalties associated with violating a restraining order.
New Jersey law recognizes two types of retraining orders: a temporary restraining order and a final restraining order.  Both temporary restraining orders (TRO) and final restraining orders (FRO) are granted to protect the safety of the victim, not to penalize the alleged perpetrator.  The exact provisions contained in this type of court order are based on the specific circumstances and therefore, can vary from case to case.  Restraining orders often include a long list of things you can and cannot do.  Among the most common conditions of a restraining order are:

  • Directing you to stay away from a person, their home, and place of employment, and
  • Forbidding you to contact that person via phone, email, mail, or text message

In cases of marriage or domestic violence, the restraining order can also set up temporary custody of children and spousal support.

Violation of a Restraining Order in New Jersey

Any violation of a restraining order – any contact at all with the individual it is in place to protect – can result in an arrest under NJ statute N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9.  Violating a restraining orders can, and in some circumstances must, result in a jail sentence.  If you are a party to a restraining order and are accused of violating a restraining order, you can be charged with either a disorderly persons offense or a fourth degree crime.
The severity of the charge against you will depend on the individual circumstances of your case.  If your violation of the restraining order on its own would constitute a disorderly person's offense or indictable crime, your contempt charge would be a crime of the fourth degree.  Whereas, if your violating act constitutes a petty disorderly persons offense, such as harassment, your contempt charge will be issued as a disorderly persons offense.
If the restraining order was put in place as a result of domestic violence, the party in contempt of the order will be charged with a fourth degree crime.

Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order

The penalties for violating a restraining order depend upon the context in which the alleged violation occurred.  The defendant will face both penalties for the underlying offense in addition to the penalties for the disorderly persons or criminal contempt.
For a fourth degree violation of a restraining order, an individual can face up to 18 months in prison in addition to other fines.  If a defendant violates a restraining order by harassing the individual the order is meant to protect, he or she will face disorderly persons penalties for contempt, which can include a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail if convicted.

Contact an Experienced Restraining Order Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with violating a restraining order, the lawyers at Villani & DeLuca can assist you by exploring all of your possible defenses.  A conviction for violating a restraining order has significant consequences, regardless of whether the order was temporary or final, so it is imperative that you consult with a defense lawyer immediately. Contact our office today at (732) 709-7757 for your free consultation.

About the Author

Carmine R. Villani

Founding partner, Carmine Villani, Esq. is a former municipal prosecutor with over three decades of experience in Criminal and DWI Defense.


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