legal separation

Defending Against False Accusations of Domestic Violence: FAQs

If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, it is essential to know your rights and how to properly defend yourself. Watch family law expert Bari Z. Weinberger’s FAQ video on false accusations and get answers your most pressing questions about domestic violence and the laws and procedures here in New Jersey.

I have been falsely accused of domestic violence. How do I correct this? What are my rights?

False accusations of domestic violence can be an unfortunate reality for many people. Unwisely, some spouses use it as a tool by which to gain the upper hand in a divorce situation. Any time false accusations are made, it is a disgrace of our legal system. But let’s focus on how to deal with it to make sure justice prevails. Falsely accused people need to come forward and present their cases and their situation to a judge in the strongest way possible. In the event there is already a temporary restraining order against you, you have an opportunity to go before the court at the final restraining order hearing, which is essentially 10 days beyond the issuance of the temporary restraining order. At that hearing, you can present testimony and witnesses. You can even bring the police officer that was there at the time of the original incident. You give the judge everything that is necessary to clear your name.


Answers to Your Questions About False Accusations

How do I “lift” a restraining order entered against me in New Jersey?

If you are a defendant and have a Final Restraining Order entered against you, in order to have that order removed, you must file an application with the court and then appear in court in order to tell the judge why the FRO should be removed. You will have to prove to the judge that the legal requirements needed for removal exist. These factors are: (1) whether the victim consented to lift the restraining order; (2) whether the victim fears the defendant; (3) the nature of the relationship between the parties today; (4) the number of times that the defendant has been convicted of contempt for violating the order; (5) whether the defendant has a continuing involvement with drug or alcohol abuse; (6) whether the defendant has been involved in other violent acts with other persons; (7) whether the defendant has engaged in counseling; (8) the age and health of the defendant; (9) whether the victim is acting in good faith when opposing the defendant’s request; (10) whether another jurisdiction has entered a restraining order protecting the victim from the defendant; and (11) other factors deemed relevant by the court.


How do I defend myself against false accusations of domestic violence?

If you are falsely accused of domestic violence, it is important that you know your rights. Consult with a family law attorney experienced in defending people against false restraining orders. You must go to court for the final restraining order hearing and present your evidence proving why the accusations against you are false. The evidence can be police reports, witnesses, text messages and or emails. It is up to the judge whether or not to enter the final restraining order against you, after hearing all of the evidence presented by you and the plaintiff.


My ex girlfriend lied and said I hit her. She got a Temporary Restraining Order against me and I have a Final Restraining Order hearing in 10 days. This never happened and I believe it is because I filed for custody of our child.

Sadly, some people attempt to use the domestic violence laws here in New Jersey as a way to gain what they believe is an upper hand in a custody battle or even in a divorce. However, it is easier to get a TRO than an FRO and judges are trained to recognize using domestic violence as a weapon in custody disputes. In your FRO hearing, your ex girlfriend will have to prove not only that you hit her, but that she has a continuing need for the protections of an FRO. Without sufficient proof such as photographs of injuries, police reports, witnesses or medical reports, it is going to be difficult for her to prove her case. If you have any concrete proofs of your own, such as evidence that you were somewhere else when she alleges you hit her, be sure to bring them to the hearing. Consider hiring a good family law attorney to represent you in court.


My ex-girlfriend has a Temporary Restraining Order against me and we go to court for the Final Restraining Order hearing next week. I didn’t commit any act of domestic violence and she keeps attempting to contact me through social media and has just sent me an invitation to connect on Instagram. Should I accept?

To protect yourself, do not accept any invitations from your ex because the court could see this as a violation of the TRO, even though she reached out to you. I would save any proof of these invitations or friend requests or proof of any other attempt to communication with you and bring that to the FRO hearing. These proofs can help you prove that your ex is not afraid of you and does not need the protections of a Final Restraining Order.


Is a final restraining order on my permanent record?

It depends on what you mean by permanent record. Final Restraining Orders or FROs are not criminal and will not appear on your criminal record. However, if an FRO is entered against you, your name is listed in a National Domestic Violence Registry which is open to searches by law enforcement and possible employers. As part of that registry, you will be fingerprinted and photographed and ordered to surrender any firearms or gun licenses. You may also be subject to a fine to be paid to a victims’ compensation group.


How can I get a Final Restraining Order dismissed?

It has been 10 years since the FRO was entered against me and I need it dismissed for my new job. I have had no contact with my ex and I am remarried to another woman.

It is very difficult to have a Final Restraining Order or FRO dismissed in New Jersey. The court looks at several factors such as your exes’ continued, subjective fear of you. However, you will be given your day in court to prove your case and let the judge know that you have had no contact, have career issues with the FRO in place and that you have effectively moved on. Consider also bringing in proof of any anger management or counseling you may have undergone since the FRO was put in place. The more evidence you can provide that your ex has no reason to fear you any longer, the stronger your case for dismissal will be.


Protect Yourself

If you have false accusations of domestic violence lodged against you, act now to safeguard your future. Speak with an attorney to understand your legal rights and develop a strategy for making the strongest case possible. Protect yourself. Take the first step today.

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