Restraining orders protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse. They restrict the perpetrator’s contact with the victim. They can also limit the perpetrator’s physical presence in places where the victim frequently goes.
However, these restrictions must be reasonable. For example, in one recent case, a New Jersey family judge found that a gentleman, whom we’ll call S.K., harassed his ex-wife. The judge issued a restraining order. The order prohibited S.K. from going to his ex-wife’s home or workplace. And, in court, that was everything the judge told S.K. not to do.
However, the written restraining order went further. The written order also banned S.K. from any other place where his ex-wife was located. That’s right: anywhere.
At some point, S.K. attended his children’s soccer game. By chance, his ex-wife was also there. She called the police. Next thing S.K. knew, he stood convicted of contempt of court. S.K. appealed, claiming that he never knew the restraining order banned him from every place his ex-wife chose to be. S.K. further argued that the restraining order was too broad.
The appeals court agreed, ruling that the law only allows restraining orders to ban either particular locations, or particular harmful conduct. The law does not allow for a blanket restriction on attending every location the protected person may be.
When criminal charges are involved, a person deserves to know exactly what is required. Presumably, the restraining order here would have made S.K. subject to punishment for running into his ex-wife at the supermarket, or in a department store. That just went too far, according to the court.
I agree. In this lousy economy, we don't want to do anything that might stop someone from shopping.
For those of you who follow our blog or Twitter page, you may already know we are competing in the Mission: Small Business Program, which offers grants to small businesses that have a positive impact on the community. We need your votes in order to qualify. If you’d like to give us your support, it would only take about 30 seconds of your time. Please follow these quick steps:
- Go to http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com
- In the bottom right hand corner, click the blue button “Log In & Support.”
- Log in with your Facebook account.
- Type “Berman Law Office” in at the bottom under “Business Name” and hit enter (do NOT enter a city or state).
- Our name will pop up. Click “vote” and you’re finished!
Thank you very much for your support.
Marc S. Berman is an attorney with offices in Fair Lawn and Paramus. You can follow him on Twitter here. Disclaimer: The articles posted here are for informational purposes only, and are not intended as legal advice for specific cases. Readers should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information presented here, but rather should retain an attorney to advise them.