In today's high-priced housing market, where even studio apartments can be ridiculously expensive, it's common for people to seek out roommates to share housing costs. But what if your roommate turns out to be not so nice? What if they turn nasty and begin threatening you–or even become physically violent?
New Jersey Law Allows Roommates To Get Restraining Orders
In New Jersey, anyone 18 or older who has experienced domestic violence from a roommate may be granted a restraining order. Domestic violence encompasses assault, harassment, stalking, cyberstalking, and violence between people who have lived together, regardless of the nature of their relationship.
New Jersey courts can grant temporary protective orders to people whose roommates present an immediate threat. But the threats, violence, harassment, or intimidation must have been relatively recent:
- A single, minor instance that happened six months ago will not qualify.
- If a single, minor instance has been followed by a series of escalating events, a hearing officer is more likely to grant the temporary protective order.
Joseph D. Lento and his team have advised many individuals who were being harassed or intimidated by roommates but were unsure whether they'd be able to persuade a court to grant a restraining order.
Restraining orders can be obtained by going to the courthouse near the victim's residence, the courthouse closest to where the violence occurred, or the one closest to where the victim is temporarily staying. Applications are made at the clerk's office of the court's Domestic Violence Unit of the Superior Court/Family Division, weekdays between 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM, to submit the application.
A victim may work with a court staff member who will interview them to gather the main facts. Victims often find it difficult and upsetting to describe what occurred to a court official. A member of the Lento Law Firm staff can work with the victim to help them explain what happened in a clear, thorough manner.
At the hearing, the hearing officer will ask questions and decide whether to grant a Temporary Protective Order. Whether it is granted or not, the hearing officer will then set a date for a hearing on whether a Full (permanent) Protective Order should be issued, to take place within the next ten days. The alleged attacker must be served notice by law enforcement and have enough time to prepare for the hearing. On the day of the hearing, a member of the Lento Law Firm team can provide strong support to the person testifying.
Under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, after a restraining order is issued, the victim and perpetrator may not occupy the same home. Therefore, if the hearing officer grants the victim's request, one of the parties must move out. The hearing officer has the discretion to determine which party will be ordered to move out. Most of the time, the perpetrator rather than the victim is ordered to move out.
If you need advice about obtaining or contesting a restraining order against a roommate, contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.
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