If you have recently been held against your will, you are intimately familiar with the “fight, flight, or freeze” response that the human body undergoes during moments of peak fear-related stress. There are few sensations more intense than this survival instinct, and – thankfully – you can use it to your advantage even after you've escaped the initial danger. You can fight for your right to remain safe and forever flee the perpetrator who has caused your harm.
Understanding “False” Imprisonment
Per New Jersey statute 2C:13-3, “A person commits a disorderly persons offense if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.” Essentially, this means that it is unlawful to hold someone against their will. The act of “interfering substantially” with another's liberty is both a criminal offense and a civil offense commonly referred to as false imprisonment.
Don't be put off by this term. There is nothing “false” about the feeling of being restrained by another and not being able to immediately escape that danger. It is a legal term, nothing more.
Seeking Temporary and Permanent Protection
Domestic violence restraining orders based – wholly or in part – on an act of false imprisonment are issued when the perpetrator and victim either are in a romantic relationship or have been in such a relationship in the past. Meaning if your perpetrator is a spouse, partner, dating partner, parent of one or more of your children, or has been characterized as such in the past, you can seek a domestic violence restraining order against them.
You'll need to start this process by applying for a temporary restraining order, which will remain in effect until a hearing can be scheduled concerning a more permanent solution. You'll then need to attend a final restraining order hearing where you'll need to prove the following:
- A so-called predicate act of domestic violence has been committed
- A prior history of domestic violence applies to the offender
- A restraining order is necessary to facilitate your safety and well-being
Note that false imprisonment is one of the 15 predicate acts of violence recognized by New Jersey courts.
Personalized Guidance Concerning Restraining Orders Is Available
Processing the legal and practical aftermath of being held against your will can be an isolating and emotionally-draining experience. Know that the experienced Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is here to help, as no one should have to deal with what you've been through without proper support and guidance.
The Lento Family Law Team can help you to secure both temporary and permanent restraining orders against the perpetrator of your false imprisonment. Depending on the nature of your circumstances, we can also assist you with your divorce and/or child custody needs. To learn more about how we can help, call 888-535-3686 or contact us online to schedule a free legal consultation. We look forward to working with you.