New Jersey takes protecting victims of domestic violence very seriously and has enacted legislation to do so effectively. In 1991, New Jersey created the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, which protects domestic violence victims.
There are 19 crimes that are considered acts of domestic violence, including, but not limited to, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, and terroristic threats. In order for the Act to apply, the relationship between the parties must be one of the following: married, separated, or divorced spouses; individuals living together in the same household currently in the past; individuals in a past or present dating relationship; or individuals who have or expect to have a child in common.
A victim of domestic violence may file a Complaint alleging that one of the 19 crimes has occurred. The victim may do so at the courthouse in the county where the act of domestic violence occurred, where they reside, or where the defendant resides. If the act of domestic violence occurs when the courthouses are closed, the Complaint may be filed at the local police station and the police will contact a judge to hear the Complaint. The Judge hearing the Complaint may issue a temporary restraining order to protect the victim which may include temporary relief such as barring the defendant from a shared residence, seizure of weapons, payment of support, and custody arrangements of minor children.
If the police are called to the scene of the domestic violence incident, the Act requires the police to arrest the defendant if the victim exhibits any sign of physical injury, a warrant is in effect, a no contact order has been violated, or there is probable cause that a weapon has been used in an act of domestic violence. The police may also arrest the defendant if there is probable cause that an act of domestic violence has occurred.
After the issuance of a temporary restraining order, the court will schedule a hearing to determine if a final restraining order is warranted. In order for a final restraining order to be provided, the court must find that one of the 19 crimes occurred and that an ongoing restraining order is necessary to protect the victim.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence, it is important that you obtain the protection you need as soon as possible. Please contact a Cohn Lifland attorney today to discuss your case.