When some people hear the words “domestic violence,” they think only of abuse occurring between a married or cohabitating couple. But persons in a dating, non-cohabitating relationship who are abused by their partners are also victims entitled to protection under New Jersey's domestic violence laws. Such violence can occur on the first date or during a long-term relationship. It can happen regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic background, religion, race, or sexual orientation.
If you want to know more, here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about dating violence in New Jersey.
What is dating violence?
Dating violence occurs when a person with whom you have a romantic relationship hurts you physically, emotionally, or sexually. Physical abuse happens when a person makes intentional, unwanted contact with another person's body in a way that causes pain or injury. It may include hitting, slapping, kicking, pinching, shoving, burning, biting, restraining, or throwing objects. Sexual abuse occurs when one person forces another into a sexual act without their consent or engages in a sexual act with a person when that person cannot consent. Emotional abuse is when one person consistently yells at, belittles, name-calls, bullies, exerts control over, or isolates their partner from family and friends.
How does New Jersey law protect a victim from dating violence?
New Jersey takes domestic violence extremely seriously. In 1991, the state passed the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), which protects any adult who has been in a domestic relationship, including a current or former dating relationship, with an alleged abuser. The PDVA permits an alleged victim (the plaintiff) to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) against their alleged abuser, the defendant. In making this filing, the plaintiff must make a prima facie showing that the defendant committed at last one of 19 criminal acts listed in the PDVA, including assault, criminal restraint, kidnapping, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, and lewdness.
What kind of protection does a TRO provide?
A TRO is a legal tool intended to keep an abuser from having contact with their victim. The order typically forbids a defendant from abusing, calling, approaching, stalking, contacting, or even emailing the plaintiff. It can also prohibit the defendant from entering the family home, attempting to reach the plaintiff via family and friends, getting within close proximity to the plaintiff, or having custody of their children. Defendants subject to TROs in New Jersey must also relinquish any firearms and ammunition to the local authorities.
How long does a TRO last?
The TRO remains in effect until the Final Restraining Order (FRO) hearing, about ten days later. During the FRO hearing, a judge will hear evidence from both the plaintiff and the defendant. If the evidence shows that it is more likely than not that the abuse occurred, the judge will grant the FRO. Once issued, the terms last indefinitely.
How does a victim file for a TRO?
An alleged victim may request a TRO by contacting the Family Superior Court in their county, Monday through Friday. If the victim needs an order after-hours, on holidays, or over the weekend, they can file for one at their local police department.
Consult a Skilled New Jersey Family Attorney
You will need excellent legal advice if you seek a TRO or if one has been filed against you. Contact experienced New Jersey family law attorney Joseph D. Lento. He has helped many people reach the best possible outcome in TRO situations. He can help you too. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or schedule an appointment online.