A violation of a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) or final restraining order (“FRO”) by a defendant constitutes an offense under subsection b. of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9.
All contempt proceedings conducted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 29-9 involving TROs and FROs, other than those constituting indictable offenses, will be heard by the Family Part of the Superior Court.
Upon receiving a complaint for a violation of a TRO or a FRO, if a law enforcement officer finds probable cause that a defendant has, in fact, committed a contempt of the TRO or FRO, then the law enforcement officer must arrest the defendant and take him or her into custody. The law enforcement officer must follow these procedures:
The law enforcement officer shall transport the defendant to the police station or such other place as the law enforcement officer shall determine is proper. The law enforcement officer shall
- Conduct a search of the domestic violence central registry and sign a complaint concerning the incident that gave rise to the contempt charge;
- Telephone or communicate in person or by facsimile with the appropriate judge assigned pursuant to this act and request that bail be set on the contempt charge;
- If the defendant does not meet bail, take the necessary steps to insure that the defendant shall be incarcerated at police headquarters or at the county jail; and
- During regular court hours, the defendant shall have bail set by a Superior Court judge that day. On weekends, holidays, and other times when the court is closed, the officer shall arrange to have the clerk of the Family Part notified on the next working day of the new complaint, the amount of bail, the defendant’s whereabouts, and all other necessary details. In addition, if a municipal court judge set the bail, the arresting officer shall notify the clerk of that municipal court of this information.
Where a law enforcement officer has found that there is not probable cause sufficient to arrest the defendant, the law enforcement officer shall advise the complainant of the procedure for completing and signing a criminal complaint alleging a violation of N.J.S.2C:29-9. During regular court hours, the assistance of the clerk of the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court will be available to help such complainants.
Thereafter, the complaint will be forwarded to the Superior Court for the contempt proceedings as indicated above.
Notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-8, any person convicted of a second or subsequent non-indictable domestic violence contempt offense shall serve a minimum term of not less than 30 days.
There are several misconceptions associated with a contempt charge for a violation of the terms of a TRO or a FRO. One of the biggest ones is the belief that a contempt charge for violating a TRO will be dismissed if the TRO is not made final and is dismissed. This is not the case. Regardless of whether a TRO is ultimately made final is not relevant to whether a person has violated the terms of the TRO while the TRO was valid and active. If a violation occurred during the time that a TRO was in place and active, a contempt charge will survive and will be prosecuted to its fullest extent, even if the TRO was subsequently dismissed by the court.
This information has been compiled as a result of the numerous trials and domestic violence matters Kevin B. Legreide, Esq. has conducted and been involved in over the years. Mr. Legreide is also very experienced in criminal and municipal matters and understands the relationship between a civil domestic violence matter and the pending criminal or municipal matter.
A contempt charge for violating a TRO or FRO is a criminal matter and should be taken seriously. To discuss your contempt charges, call The Mark Law Firm. The Mark Law Firm provides competent, effective, and efficient contempt representation to all of Ocean and Monmouth Counties in central New Jersey and Somerset, Essex, Hunterdon, Union and Middlesex Counties.