Dissolution of Restraining Orders
We represent clients who are named as defendants in applications for final restraining orders. We also represent defendants who seek to dissolve existing final restraining orders.Temporary and Final Restraining Orders
The process of obtaining a final restraining order is relatively simple - perhaps too simple. It begins with the applicant's receipt of a temporary restraining order. A temporary restraining order is issued based upon information received solely from the applicant. The defendant does not typically have an opportunity to relate their version of the relevant events at this stage. Thus, the decision to issue the temporary restraining order stems from a completely one-sided presentation of the facts - the version that favors the applicant and is most harmful to the defendant.
Once the temporary restraining order is issued (and it usually is), the Court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the applicant is entitled to a final restraining order. The Court must make two findings at this hearing. It must first find that an act of harassment has occurred. It must then find that that the act of harassment and the surrounding circumstances warrant the issuance of a final restraining order. This hearing is like a mini-trial. It typically involves witness testimony and the presentation of physical evidence.
A final restraining order can affect your life many years after it was issued.
Having a final restraining order on your record, even if it was entered many years ago, can prevent you from obtaining certain jobs, living in certain places or obtaining a professional license. Anything that leads to a routine background check can uncover the existence of a restraining order and harm your future. In New Jersey, being the subject of a final restraining order is an automatic bar to obtaining a gun permit. In many respects, being subject to a final restraining order can have the same negative effect on your life as a criminal record.
The process of dissolving a final restraining order can be complicated. A complete set of motion papers must be filed with the court and served upon the original applicant. If the order was entered years ago, it may be difficult to even locate the applicant for service purposes. Once served, the applicant may have to appear in court to agree to the dissolution of the final restraining order, or testify as to why they believe it needs to be kept in place.
Before dissolving a final restraining order, a judge will determine, among other things:
- Whether the victim consents to the dissolution of the restraining order;
- Whether the victim still fears the person against whom the order was issued;
- Whether the victim has any ongoing contact with the defendant;
- Whether there were any violations of the order while it was in place;
- Whether the defendant has substance abuse problems;
- Whether there were any violent acts committed by the defendant against the victim or other persons;
- Whether the defendant participated in domestic violence counseling; and
- The good faith of the victim in obtaining the order originally.
If you are the defendant in an application for a final restraining order, or if you are trying to dissolve an existing final restraining order, contact New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer James S. Friedman to learn more about the process, and discuss your options. E-mail, or call us toll free at 800-361-6554.