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  1. #1

    Question Contempt for Violating No-Contact in a Restraining Order

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: New Jersey
    I was found guilty of disorderly persons contempt for violating the no-contact clause of a restraining order my Ex has against me. There were no witnesses but the trial court found that I called her an asshole. they said that in and of itself was not illegal in terms of harassment and they did not conclude/decide that the name calling was a violation of the no-contact clause (I would think it is). However, the Trial Court found that by allowing my Ex to observe a photo , that I was showing to my son, i violated the no contact clause as it was coupled with the name calling. The Court said I had the photo in "plain view" of my ex with intent to harass. The court concluded that I must have had intent to harass because I had a child support hearing coming up. It was like perry mason with the judge trying to get me to say I was upset with the then upcoming child support hearing (and I quickly realized what the judge was trying to do).

    My Ex initially said I held the photo in her face and said nothing but then later called her an asshole. On cross my Ex said she observed the photo from within a bunch of others in the folder. Something seems wrong with this as being wrong as the testimony revealed that my Ex was an active "looker" as compared to me being an active "shower". My ex was looking over my shoulder to see what I was showing my son. It's comparable to my Ex saying she saw me wearing a flannel shirt (and in court, she never even said that she was offended by the photo!) and then later I'm found to have contacted her by virtue of wearing a flannel shirt.

    Of course this complaint started with an allegation to the police that I pushed her door in and yelled obscenitiess at her and held out a photo to intimidate her. But this stuff was either not mentioned or quickly dissolved in trial.

    It seems like a first amendment rights issue but I'm trying to wrap my arms aroung the proper legal argument. I've spent days looking for comparable case law but really havent found anything other than Wilmouth (which we tried at trial) and a case where a guy put a stickynote on his ex's car asking to call him and the last case I have is when an ex complained that the husband was at their kid's soccer game within her view (the appellate court found their FRO procluding him from being anywhere she is at, to be unenforcable (too vague)).

    Any ideas? this is my whole case.. and to be clear, I was picking up my kid on easter, I didn't show my ex anything and I didn't call her names. She conjured the incident to get sympathy in the upcoming childsupport court and I know this because the first thing out of her mouth to the child support judge was "he violated the FRO!".

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Contempt for Violating No-Contact in a Restraining Order

    Your child is how old, and the picture showed what?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Contempt for Violating No-Contact in a Restraining Order

    my son was 11yo at the time. I got to the door to pick him up and had a card for him to get his older sister to at least sign if she wasn't going to visit (she was being a difficult teen). I made the card and there was no envelope , so for travel in my truck to my mom's, I had it in a manilla file folder along with a bunch of other picture prints (plain paper color prints of photos before I had a photo paper printer) I intended to show off to the family on that easter day. He met me at the door with his mom on his left (in front of me to my right) holding the door, I took his weekend bag and opened the file folder, kneeling at his level. with the folder open the very first article was the card I made. I said here, go see if erika is coming today and if not, ask her to sign this card. Immediately below the card was a "way back then" picture I took off a friend's Myspace. the picture was from 28 years prior and showed me sitting for a pose next to this friend. With my hands in my lap, I didn't even have an arm around her. We both had big smiles and had 1980's hair styles. With the card lifted for him to take, this photo was now in view and I said to my son, "look at my hairstyle from back in the 80's". All the while my Ex was standing to my right and looking over to see the file contents (the card I took out and I guess the next photo I showed to my son). This was all so quick that I had not even addressed my Ex yet with a hello or anything because I was greeting my son (my Ex and I were civil at the time despite the FRO and had been talking on and off on the phone when SHE CALLED ME. I never called my ex or visited her or even approached her for any reason because the FRO was in place for some time and we had been seperated/divorced for years). When I asked my Ex if I was going to see my daughter for easter, my Ex blew up saying daughter wasn't going to visit me (she had many times restricted visitation to get child support early and then to get an increase). I said nothing and quickly just exited with my son. With a child support hearing coming up in two weeks, my ex used this "event" as a pre-emptive attack so as to villify me in child support court (in CS court, the very first thing she said to the judge was "he violated the FRO). The photo was innocuous. All the testimony, evidence was so much against her changing story that it's hard to believe the Trial Court's decision... so hard to believe that it looked like the Judge was bought.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Contempt for Violating No-Contact in a Restraining Order

    I didn't realize that my questions were so confusing.

    There is nothing in an old picture of you with a friend, with 80's haircuts, that is inherently offensive (well, perhaps if it shows a mullet, but that's just a matter of taste ), but there is obviously a back story that you have not disclosed. If you are not comfortable telling us the actual issue, I suggest consulting a lawyer.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Contempt for Violating No-Contact in a Restraining Order

    I know the photo was innoculous and there is no "back story" that I haven't disclosed.. I discribed the whole event in detail in addition to including how old my son is and what was in the picture. I'm looking for case law covering "contact" as restricted by a restraining order. In my case, the "contact" was my Ex actively looking at my innocuous photo, not be showing her a photo that might intimidate her. I masde not of some NJ case law that has to do with looking and also innocuous/diminimus contact. I guess what i am looking for here is can there be any restrictions on what I have in plain view of my Ex? what if I was shirtless? what if I arrived to pick up my son with a girlfriend in tow. What if I arrived shirtless with a dancer on each arm. lacking tact, perhaps a bit offensive, but illegal? I'd think not unless we re-write the first amendment. I'm not here spilling my dirty laundry so I can get a lawyer, I'm past that now. I have a pro-se brief due and I'm looking for legal help./

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