Atlantic City, NJ Criminal Contempt Lawyer Keeps Clients Out of Jail for Restraining Order Violations
Restraining orders are serious business in New Jersey. If you violate a restraining order, it will be considered a criminal offense. In fact, if someone even accuses you of violating a restraining order, you may be arrested for criminal contempt. Additionally, prosecutors often seek maximum penalties in criminal contempt cases because this charge is the tool used by law enforcement to ensure that restraining orders are enforced.
The Law Offices of John W. Tumelty is a well-respected law firm that is dedicated to criminal defense. Founding partner John Tumelty has 35 years of experience in NJ courtrooms as both a state prosecutor and a defense attorney. He previously served as a deputy attorney general with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Division of Criminal Justice, and as an assistant county prosecutor with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Trial Section. Now he fights on behalf of criminal defendants throughout South Jersey, including Cape May County and Atlantic County.
What Kinds of Penalties Do You Face for Criminal Contempt?
Criminal contempt charges are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9. When a judge grants a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in response to a complaint alleging domestic violence, the accused must refrain from any contact with the person who lodged the complaint — until the outcome of the case is determined at a Final Restraining Order (FRO) hearing. If an FRO is issued against the defendant, they will be permanently barred from any contact with the complaining party. If, at any time, the defendant violates the terms of the restraining order, they can be charged with criminal contempt.
The threshold for determining whether a restraining order has been violated is extremely low. Basically, if the police have probable cause to believe that you violated the terms of the restraining order, you will be charged.
New Jersey law classifies a restraining order violation as a fourth degree felony when the violation constitutes a separate indictable crime or disorderly persons offense such as harassment, stalking, or terroristic threats. When the violation does not stem from a separate offense but is merely a violation of a no-contact order, the criminal contempt charge is classified as a disorderly persons offense. However, violations under other circumstances can result in enhanced penalties:
- A first offense for criminal contempt may be classified as a fourth degree felony, subjecting an offender to up to 18 months in NJ State Prison and a $25,000 fine.
- A second or subsequent violation of a restraining order results in a mandatory sentence of 30 days in jail.
- Since the offense is typically classified as a felony, a conviction will result in the defendant having a permanent criminal record.
- Upon release from prison, you could be subject to an extended period of probation requirements.
- Any firearms that you possess will be seized. Additionally, your firearms license will be taken from you.
- If you are accused of committing a separate offense while violating the restraining order, you could face additional charges and more severe penalties. This is because you will be charged with both criminal contempt and the other offense.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Helps You Stay Out of Jail for Violating the Terms of a Restraining Order
If you’ve been accused of violating the terms of a restraining order in the State of New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will explore all possible options for avoiding a criminal record and keeping you out of jail. John Tumelty is an aggressive criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of domestic violence law and knows what it takes to secure a win in your case. Call or email him today to schedule a free consultation at one of his office locations in Marmora or Somers Point.