2C:14-16. Hearing; considerations; issuance of final protective order; notice; duration
Final Protective Order.
a. A hearing shall be held in the Superior Court within 10 days of the filing of an application pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2015, c. 147 (C.2C:14-15) in the county where the temporary protective order was ordered, unless good cause is shown for the hearing to be held elsewhere. A copy of the application shall be served on the respondent in conformity with the Rules of Court. If a criminal complaint arising out of the same incident which is the subject matter of an application for a protective order has been filed, testimony given by the applicant, the alleged victim, or the respondent in accordance with an application filed pursuant to this section shall not be used in the criminal proceeding against the respondent, other than contempt matters, and where it would otherwise be admissible hearsay under the rules of evidence that govern when a party is unavailable. At the hearing, the standard for proving the allegations made in the application for a protective order shall be a preponderance of the evidence. The court shall consider but not be limited to the following factors:
(1) the occurrence of one or more acts of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness, or any attempt at such conduct, against the alleged victim; and
(2) the possibility of future risk to the safety or well-being of the alleged victim.
b. The court shall not deny relief under this section due to: the applicant’s or alleged victim’s failure to report the incident to law enforcement; the alleged victim’s or the respondent’s alleged intoxication; whether the alleged victim did or did not leave the premises to avoid nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness, or an attempt at such conduct; or the absence of signs of physical injury to the alleged victim.
c. In any proceeding involving an application for a protective order pursuant to P.L.2015, c. 147 (C.2C:14-13 et al.), evidence of the alleged victim’s previous sexual conduct or manner of dress at the time of the incident shall not be admitted nor shall any reference made to such conduct or manner or dress, except as provided in N.J.S.2C:14-7.
d. The issue of whether an act alleged in the application for a protective order occurred, or whether an act of contempt under paragraph (2) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9 occurred, shall not be subject to mediation or negotiation in any form.
e. A final protective order issued pursuant to this section shall be issued only after a finding or an admission is made that the respondent committed an act of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness, or any attempt at such conduct, against the alleged victim. A final protective order shall:
(1) prohibit the respondent from having contact with the victim; and
(2) prohibit the respondent from committing any future act of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness, or any attempt at such conduct, against the victim.
f. In addition to any relief provided to the victim under subsection e. of this section, a final protective order issued pursuant to this section may include, but is not limited to, the following relief:
(1) an order prohibiting the respondent from entering the residence, property, school, or place of employment of the victim or the victim’s family or household members, and requiring the respondent to stay away from any specified place that is named in the order and is frequented regularly by the victim or the victim’s family or household members;
(2) an order prohibiting the respondent from having any contact with the victim or others, including an order forbidding the respondent from personally or through an agent initiating any communication likely to cause annoyance or alarm including, but not limited to, personal, written, or telephone contact, or contact via electronic device, with the victim or the victim’s family members or their employers, employees, or fellow workers; an employee or volunteer of a sexual assault response entity that is providing services to a victim; or others with whom communication would be likely to cause annoyance or alarm to the victim;
(3) an order prohibiting the respondent from stalking or following, or threatening to harm, stalk or follow, the victim;
(4) an order prohibiting the respondent from committing or attempting to commit an act of harassment, including an act of cyber-harassment, against the victim; and
(5) any other relief that the court deems appropriate.
g. A copy of the final protective order issued pursuant to this section shall be immediately forwarded to the police of the municipality in which the victim resides or is sheltered. A copy of the final protective order shall be forwarded to the sheriff of the county in which the respondent resides for immediate service upon the respondent in accordance with the Rules of Court. The court or the sheriff may coordinate service of the final protective order upon the respondent through the police in appropriate circumstances. If personal service cannot be effected upon the respondent, the court may order other appropriate substituted service. At no time shall the victim be asked or required to serve any order on the respondent.
h. Notice of a final protective order issued pursuant to this section shall be sent by the clerk of the Superior Court or other person designated by the court to the appropriate county prosecutor, the appropriate chiefs of police, members of the State Police and any other appropriate law enforcement agency. Notice of the issuance of a final protective order shall also be provided to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families where the victim is less than 18 years of age.
i. A final protective order issued pursuant to this section shall remain in effect until further order of a judge of the Superior Court. Either party may file a petition with the court to dissolve or modify a final protective order. When considering a petition for dissolution or modification of a final protective order, the court shall conduct a hearing to consider whether a material change in circumstances has occurred since the issuance of the protective order which would make its continued enforcement inequitable, oppressive or unjust taking into account the current status of the parties, including the desire of the victim for the continuation of the protective order, the potential for contact between the parties, the history of the respondent’s violations of the protective order or criminal convictions, and any other factors that the court may find relevant to protecting the safety and well-being of the victim.