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Legal Advocacy

The Law Project and Coalition Against Rape And Abuse provide free services regardless of income and gender.

Get Help & Find Safety, call us: 1-877-294-2272

The Coalition Against Rape and Abuse Law Project provides FREE legal counseling and FREE legal representation to survivors of Domestic Violence that are seeking a Temporary and/or Final Restraining Order. The Law Project was created in 1998 and was made possible through the IOLTA Fund and the State Department of Human Services.

ALL Law Project services are open to male and female domestic violence survivors and are free regardless of available income.

You may be entitled to a Temporary and/or Final Restraining Order if you have had one of the following inflicted upon you by your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, household member, adult child, mother/father or sibling:

· You have been kicked, grabbed, punched, slapped or pinched.
· You have received numerous phone calls at inconvenient hours at home or work, even after you told them not call.
· You have been threatened to be killed, injured or harmed. You have been followed at all times and/or the individual has been sitting
   outside your house or place of employment.
· You have had your personal property destroyed. (broke your phone, destroyed your clothing)
· You have not been permitted to leave your house or held against your will.
· You have been forced to have sex against your will.

For Free Legal Counseling and Services, contact the Staff Attorney at 609-522-6489.

Restraining Orders:

What is a Restraining Order?  It is a Court Order which is intended to protect you from further harm from someone who has hurt you; to keep the abuser away from you, or to stop harassing you, or keep the abuser from the scene of the violence, which may include your home, place of work, or apartment. It is a civil order, and it does not give the defendant (the abuser) a criminal record.

What Does a Restraining Order Do?

 If you are a victim of domestic violence, a judge can sign an order of protection that requires the abuser to obey the law. It is usually very specific. For example:

The abuser can be ordered not to have any contact with you. In person or by phone, at home, work, or almost anywhere you ask the court to put in the order. The order against contact may also protect other people in your family.

The court can order the abuser to leave the house or apartment that you and the abuser share, even if it is in the abuser's name.
Except in the most unusual situations, the court will grant you custody of your minor children. The court can also order the abuser to pay child support and support for you. The abuser may also be granted visitation with the child(ren) under certain conditions. If the children are in danger of abuse, you should let the judge know why you think so.

The Court may order the abuser to pay for costs that resulted from the abuse, for example: household bills that are due right away, medical/dental treatment, moving expenses, loss of earnings. The judge can also make the abuser pay your attorney's fees, and can make the abuser pay damages to you or other people that helped you or got hurt by the abuser.

The judge may order the abuser to receive professional domestic violence counseling, or tell the abuser to go get evaluated, or to go to AA or NA. You can agree to go to counseling if you want to (Or a free program like AA or Alanon), but the judge will only make it an order for the abuser.
The judge can order the police to escort the abuser to remove personal Items from the residence or shared place of business, so that you are protected by the police during any necessary contact. The judge has the power under the law to order anything else that will help to protect you, as long as you agree to it.

How Do You File a Restraining Order?

First call the police if you are need of their protection. If you are able to travel safely then you go to the following:

Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., except on a holiday, you must go to the Domestic Violence Unit of the Family Division and apply for the order. Court employees will help you file the papers on forms they will provide.

If it is after the end of the court day, a holiday, or a weekend, you can go to your local police department to obtain an order. They have the forms and can call a judge to get an order that starts immediately. You will be asked to speak to the judge by telephone, unless the judge chooses to come to the court to hear your testimony directly. If English is not a language1 you usually speak, you may want to bring a friend with you to interpret.

An Interpreter should be provided for you any time you are scheduled to appear in court, but might not be available at the police station.

How Long Does the Temporary Restraining Order Remain in Affect? When you first get protection under the law it is only temporary. The order is called a T.R.O. for Temporary Restraining Order. You must return to court on the date indicated in the T.R.O., which will be about 10 days later. Both you and the abuser will be asked to appear in court on that date. During the 10-day period the police or Sheriff’s Office will serve the abuser with a copy of the order with you and give a copy to the police in any town where you think the abuser might bother you.

What Happens in Court? If you apply for the T.R.O. at the Family Division, you will appear before a judge so you can tell him/her what happened. You will usually appear before a Judge without the abuser being present. When you return to court on the date Indicated in your order for the Final Hearing, the abuser has the right to be present.

Both you and the abuser will have the opportunity to tell the judge what happened between you. You are allowed to bring a lawyer to this hearing, but it is purely your choice. (Call the Law Project to speak to the Staff Attorney). The domestic violence victim (plaintiff) testifies first.

Prepare The Following Information To Present Your Case:

· Date of the incident.
· Summarize what you were doing at the time of the incident; let the Judge know if the defendant was abusing drugs or alcohol
   at the time of the incident.
· Describe the incident. Give the Judge a detailed version as to what happened. The Judge needs to know who, what and where of the
   incident. You need to make the Judge able to visualize what took place.

For Example:  I was sitting on the couch at 8: 30 p.m. watching a video with my son, when my husband came home intoxicated. He was stumbling and slurring his words, he walked into the kitchen and he was angry that there was not any dinner on the table. I explained to him that dinner was at 6:00 p.m. and his meal was in the refrigerator, he got even angrier and lunged at me while I was on the couch, he pulled me by my left arm off the couch and pushed me against the wall. I told him to stop and ran for the phone, he ripped the phone out of my hands, I then ran out the door to my neighbor’s house and called the police, etc.

Tell the Judge if weapons were used and/or the defendant threatened to harm you. Tell the Judge if your children or anyone else was present at the time of the incident.

Describe any injuries you received. Bring pictures of injuries, damaged property, etc. Tell the Judge you want him/her to see the pictures. State if you called the Police, a friend of you went to the hospital.

Tell the Judge if the defendant has ever hurt you or threatened to hurt you before. Give him estimated dates and a brief summary of what happen. For Example: In June 2004 he punched me in the face, breaking my nose.

Bring any witnesses you have to Court with you on the day of the hearing. (not your children, usually the Court does not like to have a child testify against mom or dad). If you have witnesses (other than your children) tell the Judge that you would like them to testify on your behalf.

Once you have presented your case the defendant than will testify as to what took place. After all testimony and evidence has been presented, the Judge will make a decision as to whether or not an act of Domestic Violence has occurred, if the Judge has found by the preponderance of the evidence that an act of Domestic Violence occurred, a Final Restraining Order will be entered.


The court will give you a copy of the order. Be sure to ask someone before you leave the court if there is anything you don't understand. CARRY IT WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES.

A New Jersey Final Restraining Order has no Expiration. The Final Restraining Order can not be dismissed or changed unless there is a motion made and granted by the Court in which the order was granted.

What if the defendant calls me or comes to my house? If the abuser contacts you, CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY. The police have to arrest an abuser who violates any part of the order that protects you from threats or violence. You have the right to police protection. If you carry your order with you at all times, it will be easier for the police to understand your current situation. If you lose your order, or it gets destroyed, return to the court and obtain another copy.

What if the defendant fails to pay support or attend domestic violence counseling, etc.?  Call the Family Court Domestic Violence Unit if the abuser's only violation is failure to return personal property, failure to pay support or rent, not complying with custody or visitation conditions, or failing to attend domestic violence counseling. In those cases the Family Division will process your request to enforce order.

Can I File Criminal Charges?  If the police have been contacted and see visible signs of injury, destruction of property, etc. at the time of incident, they will most likely file criminal charges against the defendant.

Your T.R.O. will indicate whether or not criminal charges have been filed. If they have not been filed, then you have the right to pursue criminal charges. The first place to go would be the police department in which the incident took place, if you have any problems or questions call the Cape County Victim Witness Office and they can assist in the process INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE NEW JERSEY STATEWIDE VIOLENCE HOTLINE AND DISTRIBUTED BY THE OFFICE ON THE PREVENTION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.



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