Domestic Violence is often defined as violent acts or crimes conducted within a household, or towards members of a household. Each state is different and takes different stances on domestic violence and crimes related to domestic violence. In New Jersey, domestic violence can become a complex issue that affects nearly all aspects of a person's life, including any Family Law issues that taking place. Domestic violence can drastically affect matters of custody and divorce, especially if it is brought up in cases that are ongoing. New Jersey takes a harsh stance on domestic violence.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Under New Jersey Law, there are a number of specific requirements that an incident must meet for it to qualify as an act of domestic violence. First, the victim must fall into certain categories, and the crime against the victim must be a certain nature.
Victims of Domestic Violence
Potential victims of domestic violence include:
- A current or former spouse
- A current or former household member, such as immediate family members
- A person who is father or mother to the defendant's child
- Any person who has had a dating or intimate relationship with the defendant
Domestic Violence Crimes
If the victim falls under one of the above categories, then the following crimes constitute domestic violence:
- False Imprisonment and Criminal Restraint
- Sexual Assault
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Trespassing
- Terroristic Threats
New Jersey also has certain guidelines for its officers that investigate domestic violence crimes. Officers must make an arrest on a suspect if a situation meets the following conditions
- A person claims that they have been a victim of domestic violence, and
- The officer has sufficient evidence to believe that the violence occurred, and
- The victim presents or has signs of an injury, or
- There is an arrest warrant for the suspect, or
- The suspect has violated a restraining order, or
- There is a possibility that the suspect has used a weapon
When a person fears they may become a victim of domestic violence, they may take an action with the court to file a restraining order. A restraining order is an order of the court for the perpetrator of acts of domestic violence to refrain from contact or interaction with the victim. There are two types of restraining orders that can be issued in New Jersey. The first is an ex parte restraining order. This type of order can be issued without the defendant present, based on sworn testimony from the plaintiff. These are typically issued temporarily, under the authority of a judge who believes that a plaintiff may be in some sort of danger of further abuse or violence. Ex parte orders in especially dire circumstances can even be issued without the plaintiff present. A full restraining order is typically negotiated in court with both plaintiff and defendant present, with both parties able to defend their own respective viewpoints.
Violating a Restraining Order
Defendants who violate a restraining order will be charged with criminal contempt. Criminal contempt convictions can potentially result in jail time and fines. In addition to this, they may interfere with other matters of Family Law that a person may be engaged with, such as custody or divorce proceedings.
If you or a loved one is involved in matters of Family Law in New Jersey, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.