As you might have expected, it is very difficult to remove a restraining order in New Jersey. Also, contrary to popular belief, even if both parties agree to remove the restraining order, it will not necessarily be vacated.
How to Vacate a Restraining Order in NJ
New Jersey case law reveals that consent by both parties to remove a restraining order is not enough for the restraining order to be vacated. (See Torres v. Lancellotti, 607 A. 2d 1375.) The law requires both parties show true reconciliation and that there is no further need for protection.
According to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(d), in order to do this, you must prove that there is “good cause” to dismiss the restraining order.
New Jersey courts established set criteria to determine whether “good cause” exists. By satisfying the following 11 factors, you can successfully prove “good cause” (see Carafagno v. Carafagno, 672 A. 2d 751):
- Whether the victim consented to lift the restraining order
- Whether the victim fears the defendant
- The nature of the relationship between the parties today
- The number of times that the defendant has been convicted of contempt for violating the order
- Whether the defendant has a continuing involvement with drug or alcohol abuse
- Whether the defendant has been involved in other violent acts with other persons;
- Whether the defendant has engaged in counseling
- The age and health of the defendant
- Whether the victim is acting in good faith when opposing the defendant’s request;
- Whether another jurisdiction has entered a restraining order protecting the victim from the defendant
- Other factors deemed relevant by the court
As you can see, consent to vacate the restraining order is merely 1 of the 11 factors a judge is required to consider. It is important to note that not all 11 need to be proven. Depending on the judge you will encounter, showing 6 or 7 may be sufficient. Furthermore, NJ courts place a lot of emphasis on the second factor: whether your accuser fears you. Sometimes, if your accuser still fears you, even if the majority of the other factors are met, the restraining order will not be vacated! That is how crucial this factor is. Aside from establishing good cause based on these factors, you need to show that there was a substantial change of circumstances given the history between you and the accuser and the original basis for the issuance of the restraining order.
If successful, the restraining order will be lifted. However, just because a restraining order is vacated, does not mean it will be erased from your record. Vacating a restraining order is not equivalent to an expungement. Your name will still appear on the National Domestic Violence Registry and the court findings will not be sealed.
Nevertheless, removing a restraining order in NJ removes the threat of being arrested at any time due to the accuser advising the police that you violated the restraining order (whether you actually did or not). Also, any other restrictions (e.g. access to your children, personal property, etc.) will be lifted as well. Getting a restraining order removed or vacated is no easy task. Make sure you hire an experienced attorney to help you.
Who Should You Contact?
If you have a restraining order imposed against you and want to have it removed, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will do all he can to get you the results you want. Call him today at 888-815-3649.