I often represent both victims and defendants at Final Restraining Order hearings in the Superior Court, Family Division. The procedure for the issuance of a restraining order in New Jersey is set forth in Rule 5:7A. After the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO), a final restraining order (FRO) hearing will be held within ten (10) days in the Superior Court, Family Division before a Superior Court judge. At the hearing, both parties can be represented by counsel. The alleged victim can testify about the incident of domestic violence which gave rise to the restraining order. He or she can also call witnesses to support the claim. The defense then has an opportunity to cross examine the alleged victim and any witnesses who take the stand. After the victim puts their case on, the defense has an opportunity to call witnesses (including the defendant). After both parties rest, the judge will determine whether or not a final restraining order should issue.
When considering whether a final restraining order should issue, the judge will first determine whether or not a predicate act of domestic violence occurred. A predicate act can include any of the following:
- Terroristic Threats
- Criminal Sexual Contact
- Sexual Assault
If a predicate act of domestic violence did not occur, then the restraining order will be dismissed. If a predicate act of domestic violence did occur, the judge must also determine the following for a final restraining order to issue:
1) A prior history of domestic violence
2) The victim is reasonably in fear for their safety
3) A restraining order is necessary to ensure the victim’s safety
If the judge determines that all of these factors are met, a final restraining order will issue. I have represented both victims and defendants at these final restraining order hearings in Superior Court. I recently successfully tried a restraining order at the Somerset County Superior Court in Somerville, New Jersey.