New Jersey Closes Restraining Order Loophole to Protect More Abuse Victims

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Sep 08, 2023 | 0 Comments

Traditionally, New Jersey law has only permitted two kinds of victims to seek restraining orders against their abusers: Those subjected to domestic violence and stalking victims who are either younger than the age of majority or are adults with developmental disabilities. Yet, not all victims of stalking, harassment, or abuse who are in need of protection fall into these two classifications. The so-called “stranger loophole” has long made it impossible for victims of abuse who do not know their abusers to seek the state's formal protection.

Thankfully, the law in New Jersey has recently been amended to extend the safeguards afforded by restraining orders to those who do not fit into traditional abuse victim classifications. In mid-July, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that both closed the stranger loophole and renamed a landmark 2015 abuse victim bill to better reflect the inclusive nature of the state's new approach.

The Loophole in Need of Closure

In 2015, the New Jersey legislature passed the Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act (SASPA). This law newly permitted victims of sexual assault to seek restraining orders against their abusers even if no criminal charges had been filed against them. Because most sexual assault survivors know their abusers, the domestic violence survivor classification applies to the majority of victims who need to make use of their rights under this law.

However, there is a significant percentage of sexual assault, stalking, harassment, and abuse victims who have never had a romantic relationship or a familial relationship with their abusers. Of these victims, only minors and adults with developmental disabilities who were facing stalking scenarios have traditionally been permitted to seek restraining orders under New Jersey law.

What Is the New Law and What Does It Do?

The new law renames the SASPA to the “Victim's Assistance and Survivor Protection Act” in order to reflect the state's new commitment to extending restraining order opportunities to all victims of abuse, sexual assault, stalking, and unlawful harassment.

No longer does a victim have to illustrate a relationship with their abuser to seek protection. Additionally, cyberstalking now qualifies as grounds upon which a victim of unlawful contact can seek an order of protection in New Jersey.

Assistance Obtaining Restraining Orders Is Available

The opportunity to seek a restraining order against an abuser is now expanded in New Jersey, but the process of obtaining one remains challenging under a variety of circumstances. Know that the dedicated Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is available to provide necessary support and legal guidance as an abuse victim of any kind seeks to gain temporary and lasting protection from an abuser.

If you are weathering an abusive situation, the Lento Family Law Team can assist you as you courageously ask the state for formal protection against an abuser. To learn more about your rights and options under New Jersey state law, call 888-535-3686 or contact our team online to speak with an advocate in a risk-free, no-cost legal consultation setting. We look forward to hearing from you.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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