Appellate Docket No.: A-1334-20

Decided February 4, 2022

Submitted by New Jersey Family Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey affirmed the forfeiture of T.F.’s firearms even though the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) causing T.F.’s firearms to be seized was dismissed.

In the Matter of T.F., In June 2006, appellant’s wife M.P. obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. As a result, police seized appellant’s shotgun and FPIC. The State filed a petition objecting to the return of the weapon and FPIC, and a Family Part judge entered an order on August 30, 2006, permitting the return on conditions that appellant obtain a report that provides he has no anger management issues, does not pose a danger to himself or other, and that he is safe to possess the firearm. Appellant complied and furnished the report but never retrieved the weapon because he moved out of state.

On November 8, 2006, M.P. alleged appellant assaulted her and obtained a second TRO. Appellant was charged with simple assault. M.P. failed to appear for the hearing on the assault charge and the complaint was dismissed. On November 30, 2006, she requested dismissal of the TROs because the parties finalized their divorce settlement, which included a no-contact provision. They were divorced the following month.

In May 2007, the State moved to modify the August 2006 order. In support of the motion, an investigator from the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office certified that while conducting her follow-up investigation after appellant submitted the October 2006 report, she discovered the November 2006 simple assault charge and the second TRO. Based on appellant’s violations, the State sought to modify the August 2006 order “to prevent a transfer of the weapon[] back to” appellant. On May 17, 2007, a Family Part judge entered an order finding appellant failed to meet the conditions of the August 2006 order and ordered forfeiture of his shotgun and FPIC. Appellant never challenged or appealed from that order.

In February 2019, appellant applied to the Green Brook Police Department for a new FPIC. The application was denied because police discovered appellant’s weapon and FPIC were seized pursuant to the PDVA and not returned.

The Law Division judge denied the appeal in a written opinion. He concluded that “while the [June 2006 and November 2006] incidents . . . may not have risen to the level of domestic violence under N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(6),  N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(8) still applies. [Appellant] had his firearm seized pursuant to the [PDVA] and his firearm and FPIC have not been returned.”

Appellant appealed, and the Appellate Division affirmed and found that because he did not pick up his firearm, he did not challenge the May 2007 order, and the prior acts were sufficient at the time to bar appellant from obtaining a FPIC.

This case is important to understand an individual’s rights to own and possess a firearm in light of Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) and Final Restraining Orders (FRO). So long as a TRO or FRO remains in effect, the individual subject to the TRO or FRO cannot own or possess a weapon, which includes a firearm. Only after a dismissal of the FRO or TRO can the individual seek to reclaim their right to own and possess guns. After a dismissal, the State can still withhold an individual’s right to own or possess a gun if the individual poses a danger to themselves or the public, and a forfeiture hearing takes place. If the individual is unsuccessful at the forfeiture hearing, they no longer have the right to own or possess a firearm.

If you or someone you know is involved with a firearms issue, or has questions with regard to TERPO, FERPO, FRO or TRO, a forfeiture hearing, or criminal and domestic violence activity that prohibits the ownership and possession of firearms, contact the experienced gun lawyers at Hark & Hark today. We ensure gun ownership rights are protected and preserved.


We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington ,Haddon Heights ,Pine Hill ,Bellmawr ,Haddon Township , Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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