Evidence in an Ocean County Restraining Order Case

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In New Jersey, restraining orders restrict one person’s ability to come within a certain distance of another person for a set period of time. Restraining orders also typically restrict the restrained person from going to the home or workplace of the person protected by the order. Restraining orders are often sought in cases involving domestic abuse or sexual violence, but they can also be sought in other types of cases depending on the circumstances.

There are two types of restraining orders that can be issued in New Jersey – a temporary restraining order and a permanent restraining order. A plaintiff, or victim, can request a temporary order at a local police station, with the Domestic Violence Unit of the New Jersey Family Division, or with a court. After a request and an explanation of the reason for the order (the evidence required to justify a temporary order is comparatively slight), a judge will issue the temporary order and set a trial date for a Final Restraining Order within ten days.

What Evidence Can Be Used in a Restraining Order Trial?

Final restraining order trials take place in the Family Part of the New Jersey Superior Court. The outcome of the trial is decided by a judge, not by a jury. It is the plaintiff’s burden to establish that a final restraining order should issue to protect the plaintiff. The trial is governed by the New Jersey Court Rules and the New Jersey Rules of Evidence. A plaintiff and a defendant may each present testimony, provide documentary evidence, and call witnesses—all subject to cross examination—to support or contest the request for a final restraining order.

Are There Witnesses in a Final Restraining Order Trial?

In a typical restraining order trial, the alleged victim—the plaintiff—will usually testify about the domestic violence or other crime that led to the victim’s request for the order. The victim is then subject to cross-examination by the defendant or the defendant’s defense attorney. A victim may also call witnesses (often neighbors, roommates, family members, or other individuals who witnessed the incident in question) to present sworn testimony supporting the request for the final restraining order. These witnesses are also subject to cross examination by the defense.

The person who the alleged victim seeks to restrain—the defendant—may also present sworn testimony to contest the reason for issuing the final restraining order. The defense can also call witnesses who have knowledge of the incident, and the plaintiff can cross examine those witnesses. The judge is tasked with determining which witnesses are credible and which witnesses are not.

Types of Evidence to Present in an FRO Hearing?

Both the plaintiff and the defendant can produce documentary evidence to support or contest the request for a final restraining order during the trial. This evidence can include text messages, voicemails, emails, photographs, and the like. The typical New Jersey Rules of Evidence apply to the admissibility of this evidence.

The judge will weigh admissible documentary evidence, along with the testimony of the plaintiff, the defendant, and any other witnesses, in making a determination of whether a predicate act, or qualifying crime, occurred, whether there is a prior history of domestic violence, and whether the victim is in reasonable fear for their safety and whether a restraining order is thus necessary to protect the victim. If the judge determines that these requirements are met, the final restraining order will issue for a set period of time.

Court for a Restraining Order in Toms River, NJ

If you have an upcoming restraining order trial in Ocean County, NJ, the knowledgeable attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law can help. Our domestic violence lawyers represent clients at FRO hearings in Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River on a regular basis and we are prepared to assist you with reaching the best resolution in your case. Call our local offices at (848) 238-2100 to speak with an attorney now. We provide free and confidential consultations.

William Proetta

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.