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What Not to Do When You Get a TRO

HandcuffsUnderstanding what has happened is vital for somebody who is accused of domestic violence.

What do we mean? The temporary restraining order (“TRO”) that a defendant receives is a formal order which is many pages in length and can be quite confusing. Worse yet, a Temporary Restraining Order, by it’s very nature, is issued in ex parte. “Ex parte” means that the order was issued by judge without notice to the defendant or an opportunity for the defendant to be heard.

The defendants opportunity to be heard comes at the hearing for a final restraining order. These hearing usually happen within 10 to 20 days of the service of the temporary restraining order upon the defendant

Even if the defendant is ultimately found not to have committed an act of domestic violence at the final restraining order hearing, they can be prosecuted for violating the terms of the TRO while it was in effect. The penalties for violating a restraining order can be significant.

Here are 10 things you should not do when served with a temporary restraining order:

  1. Don’t contact the Plaintiff. This means no phone calls, no e-mails, no text messages, no gifts of any type.
  2. Don’t go to the plaintiff’s home. This is true even if the home is in your name.
  3. Don’t retrieve any personal property from the plaintiff’s home. This is true even if you know the plaintiff is not at the home when you plan to be there. The only time you should ever go to the plaintiff’s home is whenever specifically provided for in your restraining order and you have a police escort.
  4. Don’t try to communicate with the plaintiff through third parties. This includes sending messages to the plaintiff with the children.
  5. Don’t contact the plaintiff’s employer or family members.  Many TROs prohibit contact with the plaintiffs employer and family members.
  6. Don’t respond to the plaintiffs attempts to communicate with you while the TRO is in effect. Remember, the TRO does not prevent the plaintiff from contacting you but it does prevent you from communicating with the plaintiff.
  7. Don’t disregard the TRO just because the plaintiff told you he or she was dismissing it. Only a Judge can dismiss a TRO.
  8. Don’t try to exercise parenting time or visitation with the children while the TRO is in effect. Many TROs give the plaintiff temporary custody of the children.  A prior parenting time order does not trump a temporary restraining order. You may exercise parenting time with your children if the temporary restraining order specifically provides for parenting time.
  9. Don’t skip your FRO hearing.  Every TRO has a “return date” when a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to convert the temporary restraining order (TRO) to a final restraining order (FRO). If you cannot be in court on the day of your hearing, then you must contact the court and have the hearing rescheduled. If you fail to appear in court, it is very likely that a Final Restraining Order will be entered against you.
  10. Don’t wait to get a lawyer. Domestic violence restraining orders are civil in nature but carry significant penalties if you are found to have committed an act of domestic violence. Violations of restraining orders can result in criminal penalties including significant jail time.

We have helped many client who have been accused of committing Domestic Violence in New Jersey. 

If you have been accused of committing domestic violence, please Contact Us today. A DeMichele & DeMichele attorney will carefully scrutinize you accuser’s proofs (or lack thereof), discuss possible defenses and work tirelessly to defend your rights. during this emotionally trying time.

Post Author: Rick DeMichele

Richard A. DeMichele, Jr. is a seasoned litigator, devoting a substantial part of his practice to family law and personal injury matters.