Did you know that New Jersey has one of the strictest Domestic Violence laws in the nation? In New Jersey, restraining orders are for life! Yes, you heard that correctly. In most states, like California and New York, restraining orders are usually granted for five years. The reason New Jersey takes domestic violence so seriously is because domestic violence is a crime. Domestic violence is responsible for more injuries to women that any other reason, more than injuries due to rape and traffic accidents combined. In some cases, domestic violence leads to death.
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act applies to a person 18 years of age or older, or a person who is an emancipated minor, that has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present or former household member. A “victim of domestic violence” also includes any person, regardless of age, who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has a child, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child, if one of the parties is pregnant. “Victim of domestic violence” also includes any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship. You and the abuser do not have to be married or be girlfriend/boyfriend. He or she can be a family member, your gay or lesbian partner, your roommate, your caretaker, or any other adult who lives with you now or has lived with you.
You can obtain a restraining order between the hours of 8:30am and 3:30pm, Monday through Friday by going to the Family Part of your local county’s Superior Court and tell a court employee that you want to file a temporary restraining order. On weekdays between 4 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. the next day, and on weekends and holidays, you must go to your police department to obtain a Temporary Retraining Order through a municipal court judge. If you call the police to report abuse, and therefore are applying for a restraining order through a police officer, the officer will usually take the information for the complaint and call the judge to advise what has occurred. The judge will ultimately make the decision whether to grant the temporary restraining order or not.
Once the judge grants a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), a full hearing with both plaintiff and the defendant present will be held within ten days of the filing of the Temporary Restraining Order. If the court determines that the plaintiff proved the allegations on the Temporary Restraining Order, the judge will issue a Final Restraining Order (FRO) and prohibit the defendant from:
- abusing the victim
- prohibit the defendant from contacting the plaintiff
- grant exclusive possession of the residence to the plaintiff
- provide for temporary child custody and parenting time
- require the defendant to undergo counseling or a psychiatric evaluation
- prohibit the defendant from entering the plaintiff’s residence or workplace
- require the defendant to pay the rent or mortgage on the plaintiff’s residence
- and, prohibit the defendant from possessing a firearm.
If the abuser violates the term of a domestic violence restraining order, he or she will be arrested, and if convicted will be found guilty of criminal contempt, a crime in the fourth degree. A crime in the fourth degree can carry up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine, although prison time is not mandatory for a first conviction for criminal contempt of a domestic violence restraining order. A person convicted of a second or subsequent contempt offense for violating a domestic violence order must serve a minimum of 30 days in jail.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, consult an attorney right away!
From immigration matters and family law to criminal and municipal cases, Jessica brings a wealth of experience to her practice at D’Arcy Johnson Day. Her fluency in both English and Spanish enables her to help so many members of the community, as she focuses on accident and personal injury cases, work injuries, medical malpractice, criminal law, and municipal court proceedings among other areas of practice.