The New Jersey Legal Services defines domestic violence as including any crimes committed by people who are, or were, in a family or romantic relationship or have ever resided together. In general, people who are or were married, living together, or dating, and people with a child together can qualify for a domestic violence restraining order.
A restraining order prohibits someone from having contact with you and can provide other relief. A “temporary” restraining order (TRO) is in effect until a court hearing can be scheduled for the judge to communicate with both parties. A “final” restraining order (FRO) is in effect permanently unless a judge awards the victim’s request to vacate the order.
The process for applying for a TRO can be accomplished independently if needed. At the courthouse, a staff person will discuss this with you and fill out an application accordingly. Then, you will go before a hearing officer or judge who will listen to you and decide whether to grant you a TRO. The other party will not be present in the hearing. If you apply at a police station, the police will contact a judge to decide if a TRO needs to be granted.
If the court issues a TRO, you will receive a copy, and the court will send a copy to the police to give to the other party. Another hearing will be scheduled within ten days, and the deadlines or timings may vary across the states. The other party has the option to request an earlier court date. If that happens, you will be contacted. You can communicate with a domestic violence advocate at any time who can guide you with the court process and safety planning.
Furthermore, you need to attend a FRO Hearing. You are required to appear at the hearing for the FRO. The other party will be present, and everyone has the right to hire a lawyer. If the other party does not appear and there is proof they were given the order, the judge has the authority to still hear the case.
If the other party did not receive the order, the court will reschedule the hearing. If you and the other party appear, the court will listen to both sides and come to a decision. In addition to protection, the order also addresses custody, child support, parenting time (visitation), and other issues.
For example, in New Jersey, FRO is permanent and continues until modified by the court. It is essential to research the local regulations concerning permanent restraining orders.
What Does a Restraining Order Do?
The South Carolina School of Law specifies how a restraining order can help an individual needing protection. Once granted by the court, a restraining order can order a defendant not to abuse, threaten or bother you or certain family members, to stay away from your home, work, school, and other places you often go, and not to contact you. However, the court may not be able to grant you some of these remedies if you are married to, live with, or have a child in common with the defendant.
It does not cost anything to file a Complaint and Motion for a restraining order, but the court does charge a fee at the end of a restraining order case. Local state fees may vary, and it may be useful to research through your local county website for more information. At the end of a restraining order hearing, the court will either order you or the defendant to pay the required fees for filing a restraining order.
Typically, If you are granted a restraining order, the defendant will have to pay the fee. However, if you are not granted a restraining order, you will have to pay the fee.
What Is a Permanent Restraining Order?
A permanent restraining order is a civil order that can be filed based on a conviction for certain criminal offenses. It protects not only victims of crime but also witnesses who helped the prosecution during the criminal court proceedings.
If the defendant is convicted of, pleads guilty to, pleads no contest to, forfeits bail to, or is a juvenile who is deemed “delinquent” of any of the crimes listed below or the attempt to commit any of these crimes, the following may qualify you for a permanent restraining order:
- Harassment in the 1st or 2nd degree (States define the different levels of severity).
- Domestic violence in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree.
- Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.
- Shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing a firearm or ammunition under the circumstances of the law.
- Criminal sexual conduct in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree.
- Criminal sexual conduct with minors in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree.
- Engaging a child for sexual performance.
- Producing, directing, or promoting a sexual performance by a child.
- Assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct.
- Crimes against a minor that is related to obscenity, material harmful to minors, child exploitation, and child prostitution.
- Indecent exposure
- Trafficking in persons.
- Criminal sexual conduct when the victim is a spouse.
- Sexual battery of a spouse.
- Sexual intercourse with a patient or trainee.
- Criminal solicitation or attempted criminal solicitation of a minor.
- Getting the minor to participate in “sexual activity,” as defined by law.
- Performing sexual activity in the presence of the minor.
Keep in mind that the list above are some of the crimes that may qualify. However, each state has various other requirements for issuing a permanent restraining order.
What Protections Can I Receive in a Permanent Restraining Order?
As mentioned earlier, a permanent restraining order can order the defendant not to do the following:
- Abuse, threaten to abuse, or bother (“molest”) you and members of your family;
- Enter or attempt to enter your home, workplace, school, or other location; and
- Communicate or attempt to communicate with you or members of your family.
An emergency restraining order issued by the court can provide similar protections. For example, in the Maryland Courts, after an interim, temporary, or final protective order has been issued against an individual, a permanent protective order can be issued against the individual in the following circumstances:
- The individual was convicted and sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 5 years for the act of abuse that led to the issuance of the protective order.
- The individual has served at least 12 months of the sentence.
- During the term of the protective order, the individual committed an act of abuse against the person eligible for relief.
- The individual was convicted and sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment of at least 5 years for the act and has served at least 12 months of the sentence.
As a side note, the victim of the act of abuse described above must be the person eligible for relief in the interim, temporary, or final protective order. The protective order remains permanent until the victim requests that the court terminate the protective order.
When Do I Need To Contact a Lawyer?
If you have any questions or concerns about applying for a permanent restraining order, you must seek out a local restraining order attorney to guide you in the process of obtaining one.