What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
If the abuser violates any part of the order, you can call the police and report the violation. If the abuser continues to harass, telephone, threaten, stalk or physically harm you, or violates the “stay-away provision,” a police officer can arrest the abuser, even if the officer does not witness the abuse.1 An abuser who violates a restraining order can face criminal contempt charges for the violation in addition to any other crime that s/he may have committed when violating the order. Purposely or knowingly violating a domestic violence restraining order could be a “disorderly persons offense.” If when violating the order, s/he also committed a crime or a disorderly persons offense, then s/he can be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. The penalties can potentially include jail time.2
Also, if the abuser violates any portion of the restraining order (especially the part that deals with visitation, monetary compensation, orders for rent or mortgage payments, distribution of property, etc., which the police likely will not address), you have the right to enforce the order by bringing an application in the Family Court based on the violation.
You can call the Family Court Domestic Violence unit, or visit the appropriate division at the Family Court, and ask the intake staff to file the appropriate papers necessary to enforce the terms of the order. Different counties have different forms for seeking enforcement, but in most counties, the process is called a “Motion for Enforcement of Litigant’s Rights.”
For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.
1 N.J. Stat. § 2C:25-31
2 N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-30; 2C:29-9(b)