Final Restraining Order (FRO) Implemented After Evidence Was Presented Plaintiff Found Several Trackers on His Car and His Parents’ Cars
Docket No. A-2515-19
Decided February 9, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Family Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished decision the Appellate Division of New Jersey affirmed a trial court’s entry of a Final Restraining Order (FRO) after evidence was presented plaintiff found several trackers on his car and his parents’ cars, as well as seeing the defendant at locations she had no place being.
In V.P., the parties were involved in a steady romantic relationship for over a year, until they broke up in November 2018, and then began dating on-again, off-again for several months, eventually ending their relationship for good at the end of March 2019. Defendant claimed the relationship ultimately ended when she found out that plaintiff was dating another woman.
Before and after the parties’ relationship ended, plaintiff became concerned when he believed defendant was following him because he began seeing her or running into her at unexpected places and times. He found trackers under his car on January 12, May 10, 28, and 31, June 2 and 7, and July 4, 2019. In fact, defendant admitted she “placed trackers on [his] car prior to when [they] stopped talking” but “didn’t have anything to do with them past . . . April.”
Plaintiff witnessed defendant at a minor league baseball game despite her not being a fan, in a parking lot in Princeton, at a funeral home, and later at a park. These sightings caused plaintiff to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) claiming harassment and stalking. He claimed that he lived in a state of paranoia as a result of the various sightings are trackers.
An officer testified on plaintiff’s behalf, claiming during his investigation of the allegations, he did a license plate reader inquiry on defendant’s car and determined her car was in the parking lot on the same day of the sighting.
The Court entered an FRO despite defendant’s opposing story, finding stalking and harassment as predicate acts of domestic violence and that the FRO was necessary for plaintiff because defendant’s behavior did not stop until the TRO was entered. Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division affirmed for substantially the same reasons as the trial court.
This opinion is important to understand the Judge’s role in assessing an application for an FRO. In order for a plaintiff to convert a Temporary Restraining Order into a Final Restraining Order, they must prove a predicate act of domestic violence, and that the restraining order is necessary to prevent future acts of domestic violence. If plaintiff fails to prove either of these by a preponderance of the evidence, the restraining order will be dismissed. On the other hand, as the case here, if the plaintiff meets his burden, an FRO will be issued and will be there permanently unless plaintiff voluntarily dismisses it or defendant makes an application to dissolve under Carfagno.
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