Morris County Restraining Order AttorneysMorris County Final Restraining Order Attorneys

The Morris County restraining order defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm have successfully represented yet another client. This time, the client was facing a final restraining order (FRO) in Morristown, New Jersey.

NJ restraining order cases are heard in the New Jersey Superior Court, Family Part in the county where at least one of the parties resides or where the alleged domestic violence incident occurred. In this particular domestic violence case, both parties lived in Morris County, NJ. The defendant was accused of harassing his wife. This harassment allegedly involved the husband accusing the wife of cheating on him, stealing her phone, and preventing her from leaving the couple’s residence. The wife got a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the husband, which meant that a final restraining order hearing was scheduled to be heard within 10 days.

After the husband was served with the TRO, he made a very smart decision and contacted the domestic violence attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm. Now the TRO has been dismissed and there is no final restraining order in effect against the client.

Both the husband and the wife in this domestic violence case were represented by attorneys. This was good for our client because it meant that the attorneys could discuss the legal matter before a trial and reach an agreement on civil restraints. A civil restraints agreement is basically a contract between the parties that dictates how they will interact with each other going forward. In most cases, the parties simply agree to have no more contact. However, in this case, the family dynamic made things different: the couple has children and a shared residence.

Given the parties’ family situation, our legal team crafted an agreement that outlined exactly how the husband and wife would share responsibilities at the house. Additionally, both parties were able to remain in separate parts of the house and still maintain their privacy.

It took several hours, but our attorneys were able to hammer out the details and come up with a civil restraints agreement that both parties were willing to sign. This led to the wife dismissing the TRO against our client. However, she still needed to show up to court, get sworn in, and testify that she was dismissing the restraining order. That’s because a court will not dismiss a restraining order unless the court can find that the request is being made knowingly, willingly, and voluntarily. In this case, the family court judge accepted the plaintiff’s request to dismiss the restraining order, so the case was closed.

If you face a final restraining order in Morris County, NJ, you should contact the experienced Morristown restraining order attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm to learn more about the consequences of an FRO and how you can fight a TRO. Our experienced lawyers are available right now to help you at 201-556-1570.

Morristown NJ Domestic Violence AttorneysThe NJ Supreme Court recently issued a major ruling in a weapons possession case, marking the first time in 26 years that the state’s highest court has ruled on a firearms issue. The court, in a unanimous opinion, held that New Jersey’s domestic violence prevention law does not violate a citizen’s right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution. The NJ domestic violence prevention law relates to the right to bear arms because it allows law enforcement to confiscate weapons from alleged domestic violence offenders who have had a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a final restraining order (FRO) issued against them.

The forfeiture of weapons by anyone, whether it’s an accused domestic violence offender or an individual who has been convicted, is a major issue because it implicates constitutional rights. As such, the opinion, which was written by NJ Associate Justice Lee Solomon, specifically addressed the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Solomon, writing for the court, said that this constitutional right is “subject to reasonable limitations.” One of those limitations, said Solomon, is that “the police power of the state provides our Legislature with the authority to regulate firearms.”

Morris County NJ Domestic Violence Charges

In this case, the defendant’s wife accused him of domestic violence in Morristown, New Jersey, resulting in a restraining order. Additionally, police invoked the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to force the defendant to surrender his firearms because the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office argued that his “volatile marital history” raised serious concerns about his wife’s safety.

The lower courts actually ruled in favor of the defendant because his ex-wife was found to be lacking credibility. Moreover, said the lower courts, the defendant’s previous domestic difficulties did not outweigh his constitutional right to bear arms.

However, the NJ Supreme Court has now issued the final ruling in the case and declared that the weapons forfeiture was justified because the ex-cop had a history of domestic violence that includes numerous altercations during his previous marriage.

Tough Gun Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey is known for having some of the strictest handgun possession laws in the entire country. It appears that the NJ Supreme Court wants to ensure that the state’s gun crime laws remain incredibly tough.

The New Jersey Supreme Court last ruled on a firearms case in 1990, when the justices upheld the denial of firearms permits to two private detectives. In the most recent case, which implicated the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, the court ruled that a former Roseland NJ police officer must forfeit his weapons, as well as his firearms ID card, based on a prior history of domestic violence. This was a particularly limiting ruling on gun ownership rights because former police officers are typically afforded more leeway in New Jersey, with ex-cops remaining some of the few in the state who are actually allowed to have concealed carry permits for firearms.

The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act authorizes NJ state officials to revoke gun ownership rights for anyone who poses a risk to the “public health, safety, or welfare.” In a domestic violence case, the victim may be worried about a threat posed by the alleged domestic violence offender. That’s why NJ lawmakers decided to grant the authority to local law enforcement agencies to seize potentially deadly weapons from anyone accused of a domestic violence offense.

The Standard of Proof in NJ Domestic Violence Weapons Cases

New Jersey judges often take their cue from state legislators and err on the side of protecting public safety in domestic violence matters. Ultimately, a court needs to sign off on a police department’s seizure of handguns and other weapons from a person who has been hit with a temporary restraining order.

When considering these types of cases, courts must base their legal rulings on a civil standard of “preponderance of the evidence,” which essentially means that the threat of violence posed by the alleged domestic violence offender is more likely than not to lead to violence. This is the same standard of proof that is applied in restraining order hearings. By contrast, the criminal standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is significantly harder for a prosecutor to prove.

Response to the NJ Supreme Court Ruling on Domestic Violence Firearm Ownership Rights

After the NJ Supreme Court’s latest gun control ruling was handed down, Nancy Erika Smith, founder of Wynona’s House in Newark NJ and a legal advocate for domestic violence victims, praised the decision. “If you can’t control yourself, if you have to be violent to your own family,” said Smith, “of course you shouldn’t have a gun.”

Meanwhile, Alexander Roubian, the president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, echoed Smith’s sentiments. Roubian declared that “anybody who’s given due process and is guilty of domestic violence should not be allowed to own any type of weapon.”

Morristown NJ Domestic Violence LawyersThe NJ Supreme Court Committee on Domestic Violence recently released its final report and made recommendations relating to domestic violence matters. The recommendations affect things like resources, education, training, and the interactions between NJ Local Municipal Courts (which handle disorderly persons or misdemeanor-level cases) and NJ County Superior Courts (which handle indictable, felony-level cases and restraining orders).

The types of criminal charges handled in Municipal Court can include offenses like simple assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct relating to domestic violence matters. These are known as disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanors) and can result in a permanent criminal charge on your record if you are ultimately convicted. In Superior Court, indictable, felony cases are handled and can include serious criminal charges like aggravated assault, terroristic threats, stalking, sexual assault, and even homicide.

Meanwhile, the Superior Court, Family Division handles all domestic violence matters, including permanent restraining order hearings and violations of a restraining order (contempt).

The New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Domestic Violence was created by NJ Chief Justice Stuart Rabner in February 2015, with the committee’s goal being to examine current NJ domestic violence laws, resources presently available to domestic violence victims, the interaction between the court systems in New Jersey, any potential treatment methods available for domestic violence offenders, methods for risk assessment, and various resources for education and training on domestic violence issues. The domestic violence committee was composed of members from all three branches of government in NJ, the private sector, special interest advocacy groups, attorneys who represent clients charged with domestic violence offenses, and attorneys who represent victims of domestic violence. As a result, politicians, judges, prosecutors, and criminal defense attorneys from across New Jersey, including Morris County and Bergen County, were all important members of the committee.

The committee came forward with many recommendations, including:

  • Expanding the use of domestic violence advocates in Municipal Court cases so that both victims and defendants are fairly represented.
  • Developing court rules and procedures that will allow domestic violence victims in high-risk cases to feel safe by testifying in hearings without actually needing to be present in court.
  • Expanding current NJ domestic violence laws to include cyber-harassment and online threats as a basis for filing a restraining order.
  • Expanding the availability of therapeutic programs for children who are exposed to domestic violence.

I am Morris County NJ criminal defense lawyer Travis J. Tormey. As a criminal defense attorney, I see a potential issue with recommendation #2, which could allow alleged domestic violence victims to testify in court without actually needing to be present in the courtroom. This recommendation could potentially violate the confrontation clause, which exists to protect defendants’ rights by ensuring that anyone accused of a criminal act is able to confront their accuser. If this recommendation is implemented by NJ lawmakers, it could potentially violate a defendant’s constitutional right to due process. I understand the need to protect high-risk victims in domestic violence cases, but there are already protections in place: the courthouse is highly guarded by sheriff’s officers and there should not really be any valid safety concerns when the time comes to appear in court to testify.

Morristown New Jersey Restraining Order LawyersMany potential clients contact the Tormey Law Firm inquiring about their ability to file a restraining order against their neighbor. Unfortunately, that is not usually an option. To have standing to file a restraining order in New Jersey, you must be a victim of domestic violence under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Basically, one of the following scenarios must apply to you in order to be eligible to file for a restraining order:

  • You and the defendant were involved in a dating relationship at some point.
  • You and the defendant resided together at some point.
  • You and the defendant have a child in common.

Thus, unless you were romantically involved with your next-door neighbor at some point, you probably will not be permitted to file a restraining order against them. On the other hand, if you are roommates and live in the same apartment, or even the same apartment building, then you may have standing to file for a restraining order.

However, regardless of whether you can file a restraining order, you may be able to file criminal charges against your next-door neighbor, if appropriate. Once the criminal charges are filed, you can ask the judge for a “no-contact order” as a condition of the defendant’s bail. This means that the defendant will not be able to contact you while the charges are pending. Then, if they are convicted and found guilty of the domestic violence charges, you can ask the judge for a permanent no-contact order as part of the defendant’s sentence. This is different from a restraining order but will have a similar effect.

Some of the criminal charges that could be appropriate to file against your neighbor, depending on the facts, include:

It is important that you consult with an experienced criminal attorney when determining whether to file criminal charges and, if so, what charges to file. Contact the Tormey Law Firm now for immediate assistance at 201-556-1570.

Morristown NJ Domestic Violence AttorneysTo file a restraining order in New Jersey, you must go to your local police department or the Superior Court in the appropriate county. According to Rule 5:7A, the restraining order should be filed in the county in which either party resides, the county in which the alleged domestic violence incident took place, or the county in which the alleged victim is sheltered.

The first thing that must be determined when attempting to file a restraining order in NJ is whether or not you have standing to file as a victim under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In order to be eligible to file a restraining order, one of the following must be true:

  • You and the defendant were in a dating relationship at some point.
  • You and the defendant resided together at some point.
  • You and the defendant have a child together.

If any of the above applies to your situation, then you are eligible to apply for a temporary restraining order (TRO). If not, you may not be eligible to do so. NOTE: You can’t file a restraining order against your neighbor, for example, unless you and your neighbor had previously been involved in a relationship. You may be able to file criminal charges, but a restraining order is not applicable in that case.

Now, once it is determined that you have standing to apply for a temporary restraining order (TRO), you must go to the court or the police department and file a domestic violence complaint and an application for a TRO. You will either appear before a judge for sworn testimony or you will sign a sworn statement that will be read to a judge telephonically to determine whether or not the temporary restraining order (TRO) will issue

In the TRO application, you must allege the following:

If the judge grants the TRO, then the defendant is prohibited from having any contact with you. If they violate the TRO, then they will be arrested and charged with contempt. You can also enumerate specific people who they are prohibited from contacting, in addition to specific places that they are prohibited from attending. The prohibited places can include your workplace, school, and home. If there are children in common, then any visitation will also be addressed in the restraining order.

The final hearing will typically be scheduled within 10 days to determine whether a permanent restraining order will issue.

Morristown NJ Restraining Order AttorneysMany potential clients contact the Tormey Law Firm LLC asking if they have grounds to file a restraining order in New Jersey. Here are the basics:

To obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) in NJ, you must show the following:

  1. That a predicate act of domestic violence has occurred: This can be assault, harassment, stalking, terroristic threats, etc. You can allege multiple acts of domestic violence, but you must be able to show at least one of the enumerated predicate acts of domestic violence in order to obtain a temporary restraining order.
  2. A prior history of domestic violence: Most restraining order cases also require a showing of a prior history of domestic violence over and above the predicate act of domestic violence (as discussed above). In certain cases, if the predicate act of domestic violence is particularly egregious, then no showing of a prior history of domestic violence will be necessary to obtain a restraining order.
  3. The victim needs the restraining order to protect them: You must be able to show the judge that you need the restraining order to protect your safety and well-being. This generally means showing that a reasonable person in your situation would be in fear of the defendant and would need the protection of the court system in order to feel safe.

If you can show all three of the above factors, then you have grounds to obtain a restraining order in New Jersey. However, you must also have standing to obtain a restraining order. Standing means that you are a protected party under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. To have standing to be able to file a restraining order in NJ, one of the following must apply to you:

  • You and the defendant were in a dating relationship at some point.
  • You and the defendant resided together at some point.
  • You and the defendant have a child together.

If any of those scenarios apply to you, then you may have standing to apply for a temporary restraining order (TRO). You can do so by going to your local police department or to the Superior Court in the county in which you reside.

For more information, contact the Tormey Law Firm directly at 201-556-1570.

Morristown NJ Domestic Violence LawyersHere is a basic roadmap of how a New Jersey restraining order case will proceed once a temporary restraining order (TRO) is filed. Once a TRO is obtained, the case will be scheduled for a final restraining order (FRO) hearing within 10 days. The case will be handled in the Family Division of the Superior Court in the county in which the TRO was granted. At the first hearing, the Judge will ask both parties if they wish to proceed that day or if they need a postponement. A postponement will usually be granted the first time so that either party can seek legal advice or if either party needs to gather evidence or line up witnesses for the trial. Because it is a civil case (and not criminal), neither party has a right to an attorney. An attorney is optional and can be obtained by hiring private counsel or, for an alleged victim, there are some legal groups that will provide free legal services to a plaintiff in need. Otherwise, the parties will represent themselves at the trial.

At the final hearing, the plaintiff goes first and has the burden of proof. Because it is a civil case (and not a criminal case), the standard of proof is “by a preponderance of evidence,” which basically means more likely than not. If the plaintiff can show the following three things by more than 50 percent of the weight of credible evidence, then the restraining order will be granted:

The trial is held before and decided by a Judge, not a jury. The plaintiff goes first and seeks to admit any and all evidence they want to show that a predicate act of domestic violence has occurred. If they allege harassment and stalking in the temporary restraining order (TRO), then they must prove harassment and stalking at the trial. Any alleged predicate acts of domestic violence that were not included in the restraining order cannot be alleged at trial. The defendant must have notice of the alleged acts of domestic violence prior to the trial. In addition, the plaintiff should include any prior history of domestic violence in the TRO and must prove those incidents at trial. Some of the evidence that can be used at trial to prove the case include:

  • Plaintiff’s testimony
  • Witness testimony
  • Photos of injuries, damage done, etc.
  • Text messages of threats, harassment, etc.
  • Voice messages of threats, harassment, etc.
  • Emails of threats, harassment, etc.
  • Prior police reports that have been filed
  • Any hospital or doctor records regarding injuries sustained

After the plaintiff has testified, admitted any evidence he or she wishes to admit, and called any additional witnesses they choose, the plaintiff rests. It is then the defendant’s turn to testify (if they choose), admit any rebuttal evidence they may have (including texts, emails, voicemails, etc.), and call any witnesses they choose. Once the defense rests, then the judge will decide whether or not a permanent (final) restraining order should issue.

If the judge determines that the plaintiff has met the burden of proof and established predicate act(s) of domestic violence and that a restraining order is necessary to protect the plaintiff, then a final restraining order (FRO) is issued. This FRO is permanent and never expires. The defendant is fingerprinted and placed in a statewide database for domestic violence offenders. The defendant can no longer have any contact with the plaintiff and any other individuals who are named in the FRO (i.e. the victim’s parents). The defendant may also be prohibited from the plaintiff’s home, place of employment, etc. All of these details will be spelled out in the final order. Additionally, the defendant will no longer be allowed to own firearms, and any firearms that were seized upon the issuance of the TRO will be forfeited. Moreover, if the defendant is not a US citizen, the issuance of the permanent restraining order could affect their immigration status, as well as their ability to enter and leave the country legally.

If the judge determines that the plaintiff failed to meet the burden of proof for the issuance of the final restraining order (FRO), then the case will be dismissed. If the TRO is dismissed, there are no longer any restrictions on the defendant and their ability to contact the plaintiff. In addition, any firearms that were seized based on the issuance of the TRO should be returned to the defendant by the county prosecutor’s office.

For more information, contact the Tormey Law Firm at 201-556-1570.

Morristown New Jersey Restraining Order AttorneysTravis J. Tormey recently helped a client get a restraining order dismissed in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, NJ.

The client was facing a permanent restraining order after an alleged incident involving his ex-girlfriend. A superior court judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) and then scheduled a hearing for a final restraining order (FRO). Prior to the date of the FRO hearing, the client contacted the Tormey Law Firm for assistance.

The basis for the initial TRO was an allegation of stalking and harassment by our client. The plaintiff claimed that our client showed up at her place of work. Additionally, she alleged that our client posted false and misleading information about her on the Internet.

The plaintiff, who was also represented by counsel, appeared in court for the FRO hearing. At the hearing, Mr. Tormey showed that there was a lack of evidence of domestic violence and persuaded the plaintiff to agree to dismiss the TRO and enter into civil restraints. A civil restraint is basically a consent order that applies to both parties, with the parties agreeing to have no further contact with one another.

Needless to say, the client was thrilled with this result. Since the client is still a young man, a permanent restraining order would have severely impacted his future. A restraining order could have caused serious problems for his personal life and his career going forward. Thanks to the efforts of Travis J. Tormey and the Tormey Law Firm, the TRO was dismissed and the client was able to ensure that his future remains bright.

Montville New Jersey Kidnapping LawyersMontville New Jersey police arrested a local man accused of kidnapping and assaulting a woman.

According to authorities, the kidnapping occurred during the late evening hours. The 22-year-old suspect allegedly forced the victim to enter her vehicle. He then allegedly drove off with the victim in the passenger seat.

The suspect is accused of assaulting the victim on two occasions during the drive. At one point, the victim reportedly tried to get out of the car; the suspect allegedly responded by punching her in the head and banging her head against a car window.

The suspect drove the vehicle to Passaic, NJ, where he reportedly assaulted the victim again.

The suspect ultimately drove the car to Montville. At that point, a Montville NJ police officer spotted the vehicle and observed “suspicious behavior” inside the car.

The suspect was arrested in Montville, New Jersey. During the course of the arrest, the suspect allegedly threatened to murder the victim. He also allegedly shouted at the arresting officer and threatened, “Wait till I get out, I’ll get you.”

Montville police investigated the incident and spoke with the victim. Investigators believe that the suspect and the victim knew each other, although the exact nature of their relationship was not disclosed. Prior to the alleged kidnapping, the victim reportedly obtained a temporary restraining order against the suspect.

The suspect was charged with several crimes, including first degree kidnapping, criminal restraint, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, and resisting arrest.

After being placed under arrest and charged, the suspect was moved to the Morris County Jail in Morristown, New Jersey. He was being held at the correctional facility on a $250,000 bail amount. During a bail review hearing in Morris County Superior Court, the superior court judge maintained the high bail amount.

The judge also ordered the suspect to have no contact with the victim or her parents.

For more information about this case, read the NJ.com article entitled “Montville Man Accused of Kidnapping, Assaulting Woman in Her Car.”

Boonton Township Sexual Assault ChargesBoonton Township police recently arrested a local man accused of having sex with an underage girl.

According to officials, the 21-year-old suspect impersonated a United States Marine and told the 14-year-old victim that he was going to be deploying overseas in a few days. He then reportedly convinced the girl to have sex with him.

Police learned of the alleged sex offense after the girl contacted local law enforcement. The victim told Boonton investigators that she engaged in sexual intercourse with the suspect at his Boonton Township home.

The suspect allegedly claimed to be a United States Marine, even going so far as to wear dog tags around his neck and getting a tattoo of the U.S. Marine Corps logo.

After investigators spoke with the victim, Boonton police and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes/Child Endangerment Unit looked into the suspect’s background and determined that he had never enlisted as a Marine.

Sometime later, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the Boonton Township Police Department announced that the suspect had been placed under arrest.

The suspect was charged with second degree sexual assault, third degree child endangerment, and fourth degree unlawful wearing of a uniform.

If the suspect is ultimately convicted of on the sexual assault charges in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2, he could face a sentence of 5-10 years in New Jersey State Prison.

After being arrested and processed, the suspect was taken to the Morris County Correctional Facility in Morristown, NJ. He was being held at the jail on a $75,000 bail amount.

A judge also issued a restraining order against the suspect. As a result, the suspect will not be allowed to have any contact with the alleged victim in the case. The suspect is also prohibited from having contact with any children under the age of 18 while the charges are pending.

To learn more about this case, see the NJ.com article entitled “Phony Marine Had Sex with 14-Year-Old Girl, Told Her He Was Shipping Out, Cops Say.”