If you have been a victim of domestic violence or stalking, you are not alone. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an average 20 people every minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. The most recent domestic violence offense report by the New Jersey State Police showed there were 64,556 offenses reported in 2013 – 334 of which were for stalking. Additionally, the NCADV reported 193 million women and 51 million men in the U.S. have been stalked during their lifetimes.
Others have experienced similar situations as you and understand the fear and uncertainty that comes with suffering from domestic violence. Many people in a physically and emotionally abusive situation are not sure what recourse they have against their abuser, particularly in a court of law.
But there are legal methods for protecting yourself, and there are people who can help you obtain them. An experienced family law attorney can help you ask the court for an emergency restraining order as well as a final restraining order to keep you safe.
Temporary Restraining Order
When you fear for your safety, you can file a document in court, known as a complaint, asking for an immediate, temporary restraining order. A judge will look at the situation and grant the TRO if he or she finds it is necessary to protect you. The hearing is usually ex parte, which means the person who allegedly abused you is not in court and you did not have to tell him or her about the hearing. The judge bases the decision on the evidence you provide.
If you cannot be in the courtroom for the hearing due to extreme circumstances, such as being hospitalized for injuries, someone who represents you can offer evidence to the judge.
Additionally, if you need a TRO when normal courts are out of session, you can file a complaint in municipal court or go to the police. There is often a municipal judge on call to issue TROs.
The TRO makes it so that the other party cannot contact or communicate with you, which means they cannot be physically present with you. It usually lasts about 10 days, until a hearing regarding a permanent and final restraining order is scheduled.
Final Restraining Order
The hearing for a FRO is a very different experience. In this situation, both you and the person you have accused of domestic abuse will be present and provide testimony and evidence. Evidence regarding the alleged abuse can include written communications, voicemails, medical records, witness testimony and more. Both parties have the right to be represented by attorneys during the hearing.
The judge will look for proof based on the preponderance of the evidence that domestic violence occurred. The judge will likely grant a final restraining order if it is more likely than not that the abuse occurred.
In addition to the evidence offered by the parties, the judge will consider whether there is a history of domestic violence, and whether the victim is reasonable in fearing for his or her safety.
If you need help litigating a restraining order, contact The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq, at 732-297-8200.