Practice Areas

Domestic Violence - Prosecuting & Defending Domestic Torts

1. New Jersey Statute.

New Jersey adopted the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 1991, (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17, et. seq.), to assure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse the law can provide.

2. Definitions.

"Domestic violence" means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts by an adult or an emancipated minor inflicted upon a person protected under the Act:

  1. Homicide.
  2. Assault.
  3. Terroristic threats.
  4. Kidnapping.
  5. Criminal restraint.
  6. False imprisonment.
  7. Sexual abuse.
  8. Criminal sexual contact.
  9. Lewdness.
  10. Criminal mischief.
  11. Burglary.
  12. Criminal trespass.
  13. Harassment.
  14. Stalking.

A "victim of domestic violence" means a person who is eighteen years of age or older or who is an emancipated minor who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other member who is a present or former household member. It also includes a person with whom the victim has a child in common or with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common if one of the parties is pregnant. A victim also includes a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.

3. Domestic Violence Complaint and Restraining Orders.

A victim may file a Domestic Violence Complaint with the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part. On weekends, holidays, and other times when the Court is closed, a victim may file a Complaint before a Municipal Court Judge, who shall be assigned to accept Complaints and issue emergency relief in the form of a Temporary Restraining Order. The Court may enter such emergency Orders to protect the life, health, or well-being of a victim on whose behalf the relief is sought.

An Order for emergency relief shall be granted upon good cause shown and shall remain in effect until a Judge of the Superior Court, Family Part issues a further Order.

Any Temporary Restraining Order is immediately appealable.

Emergency relief may include forbidding the Defendant from returning to the scene of the domestic violence, forbidding the Defendant to possess any firearm or other weapon, ordering the search and seizure of any such weapon, and any other appropriate relief.

The Judge may permit the Defendant to return to the scene of the domestic violence to pick up personal belongings and effects but shall restrict the time and the duration and provide for police supervision.

4. Final Hearing.

A hearing shall be held in Superior Court, Family Part, within ten (10) days of the filing of the Complaint. At the hearing, the Court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. The existence of immediate danger to person or property.
  2. The previous history of domestic violence between the parties.
  3. The financial circumstances of the parties.
  4. The best interests of the victim and any child(ren).
  5. The protection of the victim's safety.
  6. The existence of an Order of protection from another jurisdiction.

5. Contempt of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.

When a Defendant violates a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, he or she will be arrested by a police officer upon notice by the victim. The police officer must communicate with the appropriate Judge assigned and request bail to be set on the contempt charge. If the Defendant is unable to meet the bail set, the Defendant will be incarcerated at police headquarters or at the county jail.