For those who want to cease harassment or fear someone will hurt them, a restraining order is a potent legal instrument. Restraining orders are granted by both the criminal and civil courts in the state of New Jersey. This is primarily because domestic abuse can have a variety of effects.
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- Typically, civil restraining decrees are granted in response to demands resulting from domestic abuse situations where the petitioner is merely seeking relief and not necessarily a jail sentence for the aggressor.
- Those in criminal court involve incidents where a crime, like assault or harassment, has already occurred. A restraining order issued by the state’s civil courts to prevent domestic violence can be either temporary or permanent.
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- Whether the proceedings seek a temporary restraining order or a final order, there are two distinct standards for getting a protection order in the state of New Jersey. The court only needs to believe that the victim’s claims of fear of violence are justified and legitimate in order to grant a temporary restraining order.
- A higher standard has been set for when a hearing is held for a final restraining order. Within ten days of the interim order’s issue, a session for a definitive restraining order should be scheduled. At this hearing, a higher Court Judge will demand more proof to guard against the misuse of the procedure. The proof standard in a civil action is lower than it is in a criminal case, even with the necessity of evidence.
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- A criminal court must find that the defendant poses a threat “beyond a reasonable doubt” before issuing a restraining order. In comparison, whenever a restraining order is imposed in a civil action, the petitioner needs merely present sufficient proof to back up the claim that they have good reason to be concerned. The circumstances of the event that led to the request for the order of protection will probably be included in the evidence, and witnesses may be asked to describe what they saw. Threatening text messages, emails, letters, and voicemail recordings are all examples of documentary proof.
- The judge will reach a judgment based on what was heard if there has been a history of domestic violence, and whether the victim is justified in fearing for their safety once all the information has been presented and all the questions have been addressed.