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Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

What happens if you violate a New Jersey restraining order?

The New Jersey courts issue restraining orders for a variety of reasons. When there is reason to believe allegations of abuse, stalking, domestic violence, or harassment, the courts may grant one individual a restraining order against another.

The person subject to the restraining order must take careful steps to ensure that they understand the restrictions in the document and carefully comply with them. For example, there will likely be provisions about avoiding electronic communications and not visiting places where the person who requested the restraining order will be present.

It takes less than you might imagine to violate a restraining order. You don’t have to commit a crime against the other party. Going to a party hosted by mutual friends or even responding to an email or a post on social media could technically be a violation. Knowing that, you may be curious: What are the consequences of a restraining order violation in New Jersey? 

Incarceration, fines, and possibly more

Violating a restraining order is not just a technicality, and it should not be treated as such. The state will charge you with a crime. Specifically, you will face contempt charges because you violated a court order.

The details of the situation leading to the restraining order and your criminal record will impact the penalties you face. If someone has already violated the restraining order once before, a second offense carries a mandatory 30-day incarceration sentence. However, at the discretion of the judge, the sentence for even a first violation could be as long as 18 months.

The reason for the restraining order, the nature of the violation, and the judicial history of the judge presiding over the case might also play a role in what penalties you ultimately face.

You can defend yourself from the order or allegations of violating it

A restraining order can put frustrating limitations on your daily life. You have the right to fight back against the restraining order when someone first requests it. You could also go to court to defend yourself against allegations that you violated the restraining order.

Fighting back against restraining order violations can preserve your freedom and help you avoid a blemish on your criminal record.