Domestic Violence Law
Domestic Violence in New Jersey
In the state of New Jersey, domestic violence is the actual or threatened physical, sexual, emotional, or economic abuse by someone who has an intimate relationship with the victim of abuse. New Jersey defines intimate partner or relationship as someone with whom the victim is or was married to, living or lived with, is or has dated, or has or anticipates having a child in common with. Depending on the circumstances and abuser’s conduct, the abuser may be charged with a variety of offenses and can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse are much more common than many people realize and it can be detrimental to everyone in the household.
While many offenders apologize and vow to change, studies indicate that abusive behaviors tend to cycle and worsen. If you are living with domestic violence, it is important you understand your rights and address the issue before it escalates.
Bart W. Lombardo Attorney At Law is committed to ensuring that you and your family enjoy the safety and security you deserve. Our counsel makes full utilization of the New Jersey Domestic Violence Prevention Act to provide firm legal protection for all victims of abuse (including immediate relief in the form of a restraining order), as well as to preserve the due rights of those falsely accused.
Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991
Under New Jersey state law, a victim of domestic violence has the right to file both a civil and criminal complaint. The civil complaint will allow the victim to obtain a restraining order for protection, while the criminal complaint will lead to the charging and punishment of the abuser. In 1991, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was put in place to assure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse that the law can provide. History has proven that there are thousands of people in New Jersey who are regularly beaten or tortured by their spouses or cohabitants. Domestic violence is a serious crime against society that spans all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. Statistics indicate that a significant number of domestic violence victims are pregnant women and there is a positive correlation between spousal abuse and child abuse. Even when children are not, themselves, abused, but witness the domestic violence of a parent, it causes deep and lasting emotional effects.
Criminal Offences That Are Domestic Violence in New Jersey
Under New Jersey state law, there are several criminal offenses that constitute as domestic violence and are covered under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. Here is a list of the crimes as they pertain to domestic violence.
– purposely or knowingly causing death or serious bodily injury that results in death.
– attempting to cause serious bodily injury or knowingly or purposely causes injury with indifference to human life; recklessly causes bodily harm with a deadly weapon or points a firearm at another person.
– threatening a crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another person or threatening death to where the victim fears that death is imminent or that the act will likely be carried out.
– unlawfully removing or confining a person with the intent to inflict bodily injury or to terrorize the victim.
– restrains another person, exposing them to risk of serious bodily injury or holds another person in a condition of involuntary servitude.
– knowingly restrains another person so as to interfere with their liberty.
– Using physical force, coercion, or control over another person to commit an act of sexual penetration.
Criminal Sexual Contact
– using force, coercion, or control over another person to sexually touch or be touched by the victim for the purpose of degradation or humiliation of the victim or for the sexual arousal or gratification of the actor.
– committing a flagrant lewd (sexually offensive and lustful) and offensive act which is intended to be observed by a non-consenting person with the intention of being alarming.
– purposely or knowingly tampers with the property of another or damaging or destroying the property of another person.
– entering or remaining on property that the offender has no lawful right to be on, for the purpose of committing a felony or larceny.
– the unlawful or unlicensed entering or remaining in a place where the offender has been notified verbally or in writing that they are intruding.
– makes communication at inconvenient or persistent times, uses offensively coarse language, or intends to cause annoyance or alarm; subjects another person to striking, kicking, shoving, offensive touching, or threatens to do so; engages in any alarming conduct or repeats acts with the purpose of alarming or annoying another person.
– purposefully or knowingly engages in conduct directed at a specific person that causes them to fear for their safety or the safety of a third-party person or causes the victim to suffer emotional distress; charges are escalated if the stalking is in violation of an existing order of protection.
Protections Afforded to Victims Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
To help keep the victims of domestic violence protected, there are several protection options afforded under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
Orders that are issued by a judge limit or restrict access of an abuser to their victim. To protect the victim against the offender, court orders may issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) while the charges are pending, before a final restraining order can be issued. The restraining order can include terms such as:
- Forbiddance from returning to the scene of the domestic violence and other specified locations — school, work, or family member residences.
- Prohibits future acts of domestic violence — charges are escalated or punishment mandatory if violated.
- Forfeiture of firearms and weapons and forbiddance from possessing.
- Forbiddance of making contact in person, via relatives, via electronic communication, telephone, or in writing, or through a third party on the abuser’s behalf.
- Required payment of child support.
- Required reimbursement of the victim’s medical expenses incurred by injuries sustained during domestic violence event.
- Granting exclusive possession of shared residence to the victim.
- Giving of temporary custody of children involved in the relationship to the victim.
- Required domestic violence counseling.
- Mandatory Arrest
Because many victims of domestic violence fear reprisal if they reach out for help, law enforcement has a duty to protect victims by means of mandatory arrest if they suspect domestic violence due to signs of injury or indication that a victim has suffered bodily injury, whether or not the victim makes a complaint. In the event that injuries are not visible, if the officer sees signs that the victim has suffered physical injury or a witness states that the victim has been assaulted, the officer must make an arrest. In the event that both parties are injured, the arresting officer can make the decision as to who is more injured and who was the aggressor; or the officer can make a dual arrest.
State law requires that the victims of domestic violence will be notified when their accused abuser is released from police custody, heard in court, any change to charges or trial, and sentencing. The victim will be notified if the abuser becomes eligible for bail, applies for a reduction in bail, and when bail is met.
Address Confidentiality Program
Victims of domestic violence in New Jersey can obtain a legal substitute address to use as a physical address. Although it is typically a post office box, the address confidentiality program (ACP) can be used by public agencies and on first-class mail, rather than using the victim’s actual address.
Safety Planning Strategy
The safety strategy plan is designed to encourage the victims of domestic violence to plan for their safety in the event of an emergency. According to state domestic violence data, the most volatile time in an abusive situation is when the victim decides to leave the relationship for good. For this reason, the safety plan should be enacted first and victims should know where to go for help. Other elements of the safety plan include:
- Help in the planning phase including access to domestic violence resources, cell phones, and family law attorney.
- Tips on packing an emergency kit that includes essential items for victim and children including cash, medications, important documents, and domestic violence resource information.
- Advice on logging events and collecting evidence of abuse including photos and a journal of dates and times of events.
- Assistance with planning where to go — family, friend, or shelter.
- Guidance with preparing other family members — children and co-living relatives.
- Resources for counseling.
- Assistance with finding a family law attorney.
Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence in Morris County
New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 572-7233 (SAFE).
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 799-7233 (SAFE).
New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV) : (609) 584-8107. The NJCEDV maintains a listing of programs offering emergency services and transitional safe housing to victims of domestic violence.
Jersey Battered Women’s Services, Inc. (JBWS)
PO Box 1437 Morristown, NJ 07962
Emergency Shelter 24 Hr. Hotline: (973) 267-4763
TTY: (973) 285-9095
Office: (973) 455-1256
Fax: (973) 605-5898
Bart W. Lombardo Attorney At Law: 973-845-2294, email@example.com . For help getting the legal protection you deserve, Bart W. Lombardo, Esq. is a local family law attorney.
Shelter Our Pets: 973-506-9696. For pet placement if you are entering a New Jersey domestic violence shelter.
Domestic Violence Attorney For Your Defense
Whether you have been the victim of domestic violence or you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side, defending your case for justice.
Why You Need an Attorney if You Are the Victim of Domestic Violence
If you have been the victim of domestic violence, you may only be concerned about leaving the unsafe situation. While this should be your main concern, there are a lot of things to deal with in the aftermath, things you should not have to deal with on your own! Even if your intention is to not press charges, but to simply leave the situation, it is a good idea to still enlist the help of a family law attorney. An experienced domestic violence lawyer can help you with things that you may not have even thought of.
Your abuser has the right to a free attorney, but you do not.
As the accused, your abuser has access to a public defender in the event that (s)he doesn’t have the funds to hire their own. However, as the plaintiff (or, in some cases, the witness), you do not have those same rights. If you would like legal representation, you have to hire your own. When you are caught in a legal battle regarding the domestic violence charges, you are not just facing your abuser, you are facing their experienced lawyer as well; you should not go it alone! While you may be convinced that there is no way you can lose, due to overwhelming evidence in your favor, the right criminal defense attorney can quickly turn the tables. Turn them back in the favor of justice by hiring an attorney you can trust.
Obtaining a protective order.
Obtaining an effective protective order is common practice, but is not an absolute requirement by the courts when someone is arrested on domestic violence charges. If there is a shared residence, vehicles, or children, and the threat of harm or danger is not obvious or imminent, the courts may hesitate or even refuse to issue a protective order until an investigation can be completed. Remember, all accused are innocent until proven guilty. You have a much better chance of obtaining the order of protection that you deserve, that includes the components you need if you have a lawyer defending your case. In fact, you are 86 percent more likely to get the protection you need with an attorney on your side.
Domestic violence makes divorce and child custody matters complicated.
Divorce and child custody matters are the unfortunate areas of expertise for family law attorneys. If you have left a situation of domestic violence and are married to your abuser and/or have shared children, the situation becomes much more complicated. At this point, it is not as simple as leaving the situation, but requires you to legally separate yourself from your spouse and marital assets, as well as determine custody of children. This is where the expertise and experience of a family lawyer can help you.
Why You Need a Lawyer if You Are Accused of Domestic Violence in Your Divorce
In the heated battle of divorce, one black hat tactic used by some spouses to obtain a bulk of the assets, alimony, child support, and custody of shared children is to accuse their spouse of domestic violence. Because there is a wide range of what is considered domestic violence or abuse, if this is your spouse’s tactic, chances are they have been collecting evidence against you in preparation. Of course, even if the evidence is not indicative of physical violence, events taken out of context can easily be twisted to be perceived in a particular way.
Because the state of New Jersey takes domestic violence very seriously, family courts typically quickly err on the side of the alleged victim. As the alleged perpetrator, you can quickly lose your assets, children, and money if you do not have a family law attorney on your side.
Courts are sympathetic to domestic violence victims.
For good reason and for the protection of victims, courts are very sympathetic to victims of domestic violence. The culture of protecting the victim at the risk of impeding the suspected abuser’s rights has the best of intentions at the root. In cases of actual domestic violence, the processes in place do help to protect victims and prevent escalation of violence. However, for those who are falsely accused of domestic violence, this culture becomes an uphill battle to prove innocence. Because the court system is sympathetic to victims, the accused will have to prove, with much more evidence that the accuser, that there was, in fact, no abuse to speak of.
Domestic violence makes divorce and child custody matters complicated.
If accusations of domestic violence are founded, allocation of assets, children, and financial support are generally awarded, in full, to the victim. If the charges brought against you are false, it is in your best interest to fight them, and fight them hard. Otherwise, you risk losing rights to custody of your children and access to all of your possessions, in addition to making monthly alimony and child support payments.
Even false allegations have long-lasting impacts.
Unfortunately, even if the allegations are dismissed due to a lack of evidence, or if they are proven erroneous, it is difficult to shake the stigma. If you have a career working with people or in any sort of public service industry, the allegations on your record, even without a conviction, can have detrimental effects on your career. Especially if a protective order that restricts weapons handling was issued and your job requires you to hold a weapon. Even if charges are eventually dropped and the order of protection removed, it may come too late for your employer. Allegations can call your character into question and challenge your future credibility. How your friends, family, coworkers, and society view you may change of.
Bart W. Lombardo Attorney at Law is an experienced family lawyer who has decades of experience defending those who are victims of domestic violence as well as those who are falsely accused of domestic violence in divorce proceedings. His concern is the safety of every member of the family and defending the rights of all people. If you are the victim of domestic violence or have been accused of domestic violence in your divorce proceedings, do not hesitate to call Bart W. Lombardo, Esq.