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What to do when the defendant violates a restraining order?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | FAMILY LAW - Domestic Violence

Restraining orders serve as legal protection for victims of domestic violence or harassment. These orders aim to protect the victim by prohibiting contact or interaction with the defendant. However, what should you do if the defendant fails to abide by the terms of the restraining order?

Where to report?

Restraining orders typically consist of two parts. Part 1 addresses restrictions on contact, while Part 2 deals with financial and parenting matters. If the defendant violates Part 1, where contact is strictly prohibited, you can take immediate action by involving the police. Visit your local police station and inform them about the violation. You may need to provide them with specific details and evidence of the breach, such as messages, emails or witness testimonies.

However, the family court should address the matter if the violation pertains to Part 2 of the order, involving financial or parenting issues. Contact your local family court and inform them about the defendant’s noncompliance. They will guide you on the necessary steps to enforce the order. It’s crucial to provide the court with relevant evidence supporting your claim, such as records of missed child support payments or refusal to adhere to parenting arrangements.


Breaking a restraining order in New Jersey can land you in jail. In recent years, the penalties for domestic violence have become stronger, and New Jersey law is unforgiving when it comes to alleged abusers and those who violate protective orders. Each violation is considered a separate act of contempt of court, which is a fourth-degree crime. If convicted, this means hefty fines and more than a year in state prison.

Prosecutors often add charges of harassment, stalking or making terroristic threats, compounding the penalties. Just one angry or drunken text could result in months behind bars. The consequences become even more severe if the restraining order prohibits firearm possession. Even if you legally purchase a firearm in a state with lenient gun laws, bringing it back to New Jersey would make it an illegal possession. Unlawful possession of a firearm can lead to a decade-long prison sentence.

Don’t hesitate to seek assistance if you are uncertain about any aspect of the restraining order or the defendant’s action. You can either call the police or reach out to the family court for guidance. They can help you handle these situations and provide support and legal advice.