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Guarding Against Serious Penalties After Violations Of Restraining Orders

The violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense that results when there is a reasonable basis or probable cause to believe that the restraining order has been violated. Depending on whether a separate criminal offense was committed in the course of the violation, the violator may be facing criminal contempt and additional penalties.

My name is Anthony N. Palumbo and I have been successfully defending individuals against restraining order violations in New Jersey for over 38 years.  I have successfully defended and have had trials for more than 500 restraining order violations. I have been appointed by Union County Superior Court Judges to appear on behalf of individuals charged with violations of restraining orders, violations of probation and violations of final restraining orders. I have made these appearances on numerous occasions in Union County.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a restraining order violation, I can help. Contact me today at 908-643-6801 for a free initial consultation by phone or in person. I defend individuals against restraining order violations throughout New Jersey including Union County and surrounding counties.

New Jersey Restraining Order Law

In New Jersey, if the applicant makes a showing of domestic violence, a judge may grant a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against the defendant. The TRO may be granted “ex parte,” meaning without the defendant present. Under NJ Court Rule 5:7A, if the TRO is granted, a hearing will be held within 10 days to determine whether the TRO should be converted into a final restraining order.

Temporary Restraining Order

In order to obtain a TRO, the applicant must show that she is in danger of domestic violence. The showing may be made by testimony in court or may be made over the phone to the judge. If the judge finds a reasonable basis based on credible evidence that domestic violence has occurred, a TRO will be issued. Under New Jersey law, the definition of domestic violence involves committing one of the following acts: False Imprisonment, Criminal Restraint, Kidnapping, False Imprisonment, Homicide, Assault, Terroristic Threats, Sexual Assault, Lewdness, Criminal Mischief, Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Harassment, Criminal Sexual Contact and Stalking.

Final Restraining Order

If a TRO is issued, the judge will schedule a hearing within 10 days. At the hearing, the judge will decide whether the TRO should be converted into a final restraining order. While the defendant’s presence is not required for the issuance of a TRO, the defendant must be present at the final hearing. At the final hearing, more than ‘a showing of domestic violence’ is required to convert the TRO into a final restraining. A final restraining order will only be issued if the judge finds that domestic violence has in fact occurred between the parties, or the defendants admits it.

Violation Of A Restraining Order

When a restraining order is issued, the defendant may not engage in certain conduct with the applicant, and the defendant’s firearms license will be seized. The restraining order may prevent the defendant from engaging in any number of activities including contacting the applicant, going to the applicant’s house and place of work, or any other place where the applicant frequents. The restraining order will be violated when there is reasonable basis or probable cause to believe that the restraining order has been violated.


Under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, when a violation has been committed, a person will be charged with criminal contempt. If the defendant commits an additional offense while violating the order, he will be charged with the additional offense and criminal contempt. Criminal contempt in domestic violence cases is a fourth degree crime which carries penalties of:

  • Up to 18 months in prison; and
  • $25,000 in fines.

If an individual is convicted of a subsequent violation, that person may be charged with criminal contempt and a minimum of 30 days in prison.

Lack of knowledge of a restraining order is a defense against a criminal contempt charge for a violation. The defendant’s lack of knowledge must be reasonable in order to be a valid defense. When a restraining order is issued, it is up to the courts to notify the defendant, and if the defendant is not notified, this may be a valid defense. An example might be where the defendant was never served with a copy of the order or notified that the order existed. Mere ignorance is not enough to constitute a defense.

Contact The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo Today

If you have been served with a restraining order, it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately. Restraining orders tend to arise during extremely difficult times in people’s lives, and when faced with such harrowing trials it is important to contact an attorney right away. I have successfully helped individuals with restraining order violations for over 38 years. I will walk you through the legal process and make sure you receive the best possible outcome given the circumstances of your case.

Contact me today at 908-643-6801 for a free initial consultation by phone or in person.