Understanding the Consequences of an FRO (Final Restraining Order)
DOCKET NO. A-3610-20
Decided August 8, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Family Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division of New Jersey the judge found that a restraining order was necessary to protect the plaintiff due to harassment after defendant emailed her despite plaintiff telling him not to and showing up to plaintiff’s house uninvited.
The parties were in a dating relationship that began in the mid-1990s. Although the dating relationship ended in approximately 1999, the parties continued to see each other, and they continued to have a sexual relationship until 2010. The incident that gave rise to the request for a restraining order occurred on June 5 to June 6, 2021. Plaintiff testified that in April 2021, defendant sent her an email asking her to call him. She did not respond. In May 2021, defendant came to plaintiff’s house at least once. During that occasion, defendant had looked into plaintiff’s home while wearing a mask. she recognized defendant and saw that defendant’s car was parked outside her home. In addition, evidence indicated that plaintiff told defendant in May 2021 not to come to her house.
On June 5, 2021, defendant sent plaintiff an email requesting to speak to her. Plaintiff did not respond at that time. At approximately 2:30 a.m. on June 6, 2021, plaintiff was awakened when rocks were thrown against her window. She looked out and saw defendant’s car outside her home. The lights on defendant’s car were on and he was playing music loudly. The police were called by a neighbor, but the defendant had left before the police arrived. The plaintiff testified that she felt that the defendant was there to show that he could come to her home whenever he wanted. In the afternoon on June 6, plaintiff replied to defendant’s June 5 email stating that she knew defendant had been at her house earlier that day and she did not want to have any contact with him. The defendant denied going to plaintiff’s home on June 5 or 6, 2021. He said that he had gone to her home in May 2021 but claimed that he was there to get the spare key to a car he was trying to sell.
Plaintiff testified that while they were seeing each other, defendant had choked her, slapped her, and had thrown things at her. She had co-signed a vehicle with the defendant that she picked up because he was not paying the car insurance. The defendant had had sent her several text messages and a voicemail asking for the vehicle and saying he would come to her house to pick it up. The plaintiff told the defendant to stop calling and texting her and to not come to her house. defendant sent plaintiff a message stating: “I’m on my way. I f[ ]ing told you to drop off the truck. Because of you I didn’t get to see my daughter. Now, you’re going to f[ ]ing pay for it.”
Defendant testified that he never choked, slapped, or threw things at plaintiff. He also explained that the text message he sent in 2015 concerned a truck that he claimed plaintiff had taken from him, and he was trying to get the truck back.
The judge found that plaintiff was more credible than defendant. Based on plaintiff’s testimony, the judge found that defendant had come to plaintiff’s home in the early morning hours of June 6, 2021, and that his purpose was to harass plaintiff. The judge also found that plaintiff was credible in explaining the history of domestic violence between the parties. In addition, the judge also found that plaintiff needed an FRO for her safety. The judge reasoned that without a restraining order, defendant would continue to contact plaintiff and plaintiff needed the restraining order to keep her safe.
Defendant appealed and the appellate Division affirmed, finding the trial court made appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The case is important to understand the consequences of an FRO and their right to an attorney. The consequences of an FRO include:
- Any contact with Plaintiff is a criminal charge of contempt. Two or more contempt convictions results in a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail;
- Defendant is fingerprinted and put on a domestic violence registry with other abusers;
- There is no expiration to the FRO, it is permanent;
- Defendant is prohibited from owning or possessing any weapons including firearms. Firearms currently in possession of Defendant are forfeited including Firearms ID Card (FID card);
- Because of the firearm prohibition, employment in law enforcement and military may become impossible;
- If Defendant was residing with Plaintiff, the Defendant could be permanently removed from the home;
- Employment in certain jobs like daycares in NJ are forbidden;
- Custody may be affected;
- International travel could be restricted. TSA will frisk Defendant for each flight;
- Professional licensures (nursing, law, accounting licenses etc.) could be affected; and
- Requests for housing could be denied solely on the basis of the FRO with no other criminal history;
If you have a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against someone else or against yourself, contact the experienced attorneys at Hark & Hark today. Furthermore, if you have recently had an FRO put against you or have been denied entry of an FRO and you believe you may have grounds to appeal, contact Hark & Hark, we help clients with prenups, divorce, custody, domestic violence, child support, alimony, adoptions and more.
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We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing domestic violence 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, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties. We represent clients in all towns in New Jersey, 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.