Contempt Charges and Final Restraining Order Trial Morris County NJ
The experienced restraining order lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm recently assisted a client who needed to avoid having a Final Restraining Order (FRO) entered against her in Morris County. The restraining order hearing was scheduled in the Morris County Superior Court, Family Partt, so the client contacted the Tormey Law Firm and explained that she was served with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Additionally, the client said that she was charged with contempt for allegedly violating the restraining order. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office was pursuing the contempt charge, so the penalties for a conviction would be severe. After meeting with the client, looking over the evidence, and discussing the case with the other party involved in the domestic violence situation, the criminal defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm were able to work out an agreement and get the restraining order dismissed.
This case is not unlike countless restraining order matters previously handled by the Tormey Law Firm: a concerned client was concerned about having been served with a TRO and needed help defending her case. The first step was to arrange a meeting and take a look at the client’s situation. After reviewing the case against the client and determining that the client was actually a victim of domestic violence, the Tormey Law Firm made an appearance in Family Court and assisted the client as she applied for her own TRO against the other party. Additionally, the Tormey Law Firm helped the client go through the complicated process of filing a civilian criminal mischief complaint at the police department because the other party caused serious damage to the client’s vehicle during the domestic violence incident.
The next step in the case was to prepare for the FRO hearing. While preparing for the very important final restraining order hearing, the Tormey Law Firm requested transcripts from the initial TRO hearing that occurred at the municipal court level. Our knowledgeable attorneys also got police reports about the alleged incident of domestic violence. In general, these items can be useful when preparing for domestic violence hearings, criminal trials, and cross-examination of the other party because they offer helpful background information, as well as observations of the responding police officers.
On the day of the FRO hearing, there are a few ways things can go – one of which is an outright dismissal of the charges by the plaintiff when they decide that they no longer want a restraining order. Dismissal of a restraining order ordinarily requires that the plaintiff knowingly, willingly, and voluntarily elect to drop the case. However, keep in mind that before a plaintiff can dismiss a restraining order, the Court will have the plaintiff briefly meet with a domestic violence counselor in order to discuss the cycle of domestic violence and understand the ramifications of going through with the restraining order dismissal. For example, in Morris County NJ, the plaintiff will probably meet with representatives from the Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS). Additionally, before dismissing a restraining order, the Court will make sure that the plaintiff was not threatened or coerced in any way.
Civil Restraints in New Jersey Restraining Order Cases
Sometimes, the parties in a restraining order case will agree to no longer contact each other. This is called an agreement of civil restraints. A civil restraints agreement is basically a contract between the parties, with each party agreeing to certain terms. The most important term in a civil restraints agreement is usually a mutual agreement make no future contact via phone, via e-mail, in person, or through any other means.
One major benefit of civil restraints is that the parties are often able to carve out exceptions to the no-contact provision when such exceptions are deemed necessary to manage daily responsibilities. For instance, if the parties have children together or own joint property, they can agree on an amicable arrangement for child visitation or outline future communications about how to handle matters involving their shared personal property.
Generally speaking, the primary difference between a civil restraints agreement and a final restraining order is that violating a civil restraints agreement will not lead to an arrest.
The Final Restraining Order Hearing in Morris County, NJ
If a restraining order isn’t dismissed or if the parties are unable to reach a civil restraints agreement, the case will have to proceed to a Final Restraining Order hearing. Restraining order hearings in NJ are basically bench trials that are handled by a judge and that do not have a jury present. As with most criminal trials, this is an excellent opportunity for the plaintiff to present their case to a judge and for the defendant to cross-examine witnesses and challenge the evidence. Beyond that, the defendant is able to call witnesses and present documents, photographs, videos, and other evidence during the hearing. At the end of the FRO hearing, there will be just two possible outcomes: dismissal of the restraining order or entry of a permanent restraining order against the defendant.
In the recent case handled by the restraining order lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm, it was possible for the defendant to avoid a hearing by meeting with the other party and working out a mutual agreement of dismissal. One benefit to these kinds of meetings in advance of a restraining order hearing is that the parties are often able to get what they want without needing to go through a stressful hearing. For instance, the parties in the recent Morris County restraining order case were able to work out a deal in which the other party agreed to pay for damage done to the client’s car during a domestic violence incident. This helped to convince the client that a civilian criminal mischief case was no longer be necessary. Additionally, the other party decided that he would no longer “press charges” or testify in the criminal contempt case.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the decision to dismiss a contempt case is ultimately up to the Assistant Prosecutor because is a criminal matter.
The bottom line is that it is generally in everyone’s best interests to work things out rather than leaving the outcome to chance in court.
The Tormey Law Firm Represents Clients Facing Restraining Orders in Morris County
Every domestic violence case handled by the criminal defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm is unique and requires a personalized strategy. The skilled domestic violence attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm understand this and are prepared to apply their knowledge and their experience toward achieving the best possible outcome for our clients.