Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
Domestic violence in Ocean County is not limited to just people who are married. Parents and children, boyfriends and girlfriends, and roommates can all face domestic violence charges. If a person is living in an abusive or unsafe environment they may be able to request a temporary restraining order (TRO) against their abuser. A TRO will temporarily remove the abuser from the living quarters that they share. Most people adhere to the terms of the TRO, until a final restraining order is entered after a hearing before a judge.
Domestic Violence in Ocean County
Domestic violence or domestic abuse occurs in the form of emotional, physical, sexual or economic abuse. The use of control or coercive behavior over another person in order to influence or hinder is considered the main definition of domestic abuse. Many people who are in an abusive relationship fail to see that they are living in an unhealthy or destructive environment. A couple doesn’t have to be always yelling at one another to warrant an abusive situation. A constant verbal attack of an abuser telling their victim that they are no good, ugly, or that no one loves them can constitute a form of verbal abuse. Other forms of abuse could be threatening or intimidating the victim, or leading the victim to believe that they are in a constant threat of being hurt. Domestic violence can also include spousal rape, deviant sexual acts or exploitation of one’s spouse. In extreme cases of spousal abuse the husband may force the wife to move away from friends and family and cause the wife to become isolated.
Temporary Restraining Order in Ocean County?
No one should have to be in fear of their living situation. In no circumstance is domestic violence acceptable. If you are a victim of domestic violence there are steps you should take to remedy the situation. One thing to do, if possible, is to collect evidence against your spouse. This could include saving phone or text messages, letters, emails and documenting any physical injuries that might have resulted from a confrontation. You should also make notations of any incidents including the time of day, the date and what the incident entailed. Also, retain any copies of medical reports that will detail the extent of your injuries. If you fear that the abuse is going to happen again or that it is becoming worse you should call the police and request an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO). A victim would go to the municipal court house, stop by the local police or call the local police station in which they live or are sheltered. For example, if the victim lives in Jackson then they would want to contact the Jackson police. The police will contact the local municipal court judge who will hear the details of the abuse. The municipal court judge can authorize a TRO over the telephone or other forms of electronic communication. The applicant will provide a sworn oral testimony in regards to their domestic violence case. The purpose of the TRO is to “protect the life, health, or well-being of a victim on whose behalf the relief is sought.”
Result of a Temporary Restraining Order
Once the TRO is approved the abuser will be removed from the shared home and will be prevented from showing up at the victim’s work place or school their children attend. The person who has the TRO against them is also not allowed to contact the victim via telephone, text message, email, or any other form of communication. At all times the abuser must maintain a certain distance from the victim, the victim’s home, the victim’s place of employment and the relatives of the victim. If there are shared children involved, a schedule for visitation must be created, detailing the times and locations that the children are to be dropped off and picked up. A TRO does not relinquish the abuser from their financial duties in regards to their children. They must continue to provide financial support for their children throughout the length of the restraining order. If a person violates the terms of the restraining order they will be in contempt of a restraining order and will be arrested, taken to jail and will face criminal prosecution.
Final Restraining Order (FRO)
A Temporary Restraining Order in Ocean County will remain in effect until the court dissolves the order or the TRO is replaced by a Final Restraining Order (FRO). Approximately 10 days after the initial TRO is issued there will be a hearing for the Final Restraining Order. A FRO has no expiration date and remains in place until it is modified or dissolved by the Family Court. Both parties in the matter must attend the court hearing and testify under oath. It is suggested that the abused spouse have an attorney present on their behalf due to the trying nature of the situation.
All restrictions remain in place which were introduced in the TRO, this includes that the abuser must remain a set distance away from the victim, refrain from any form of communication and stay away from the victim’s place of work, home, family and the place where their children attend school. In order to dissolve or modify the terms of the final restraining order the victim must go before a Family Court Judge and file an affidavit to modify the order. Both parties will have to go in front of a Family Court Judge to make the final request and the court will want to determine that the request is not coerced by the abuser. The judge will review the circumstances around the original restraining order and may choose to not dissolve or modify the Final Restraining Order.
Whether you are from Red Bank, Long Branch, Freehold, Howell Townships or any other town in New Jersey, Villani & DeLuca, P.C. can help you with your restraining order. Call 732-820-1256 today to discuss your case.
In New Jersey, Domestic Violence means the occurrence of one or more of the following criminal offenses upon a person protected under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1990 found in N.J.S.A 2C:25-17:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
A person is considered to be protected under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1990 if:
- A person who is 18 years of age or older; or
- An emancipated minor who has been subjected to violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present or former member of the household; or
- Who, regardless of age, has been subjected to violence by a person with whom the victim has a child in common, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common; or
- Who, regardless of age, has been subjected to violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship, however the offender must have been over the age of 18 years or an emancipated minor at the time of the offense.
Because domestic violence can escalate even after the police intervene, New Jersey treats the procedure for handling the crime of domestic violence differently than other crimes. Under New Jersey law, a police officer must arrest a suspect and sign a criminal complaint where (1) a person claims to have been the victim of domestic violence inflicted by the suspect, (2) the officer has sufficient evidence to believe that such violence occurred, and (3) one of the following circumstances applies:
- The victim shows signs of injury
- An arrest warrant exists
- The suspect has violated a domestic violence restraining order, or
- The officer has sufficient cause to believe that a weapon was used in committing a domestic violence crime.
Further, if an officer sees or learns that a weapon is present within the premises of a domestic violence incident and reasonably believes that the weapon would expose the victim to a risk of serious bodily injury, the officer will attempt to gain possession of the weapon. If a police officer seizes any firearm, the officer will also seize any firearm purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun issued to the person accused of the act of domestic violence.
While not mandatory, if none of the requirements of a mandatory arrest are met but a police officer believes that an act of domestic violence has occurred, the officer may, at their discretion, arrest the offender. In other words, New Jersey law allows police officers to legally arrest an alleged offender, without a warrant, for an alleged violation of assault and battery (the physical injuring of another person) against a family or household member. The rationale is that it is better to extinguish the volatile situation by removal than to allow the situation to potentially escalate by allowing all members of the household to remain together after a potentially serious and dangerous altercation.
If a police officer believes that the victim needs immediate protection from further acts of domestic violence, or, if the victim requests immediate protection, the officer may seek an immediate court order by contacting a judge for the purposes of obtaining a restraining order.
If a restraining order is issued, the police officer will serve the defendant with a copy of the order. A full hearing with the plaintiff and the defendant is held within 10 days of the filing of the complaint seeking the restraining order. If the court determines that the plaintiff proved the allegations in the complaint, it may issue an order containing provisions that:
- prohibit the defendant from abusing the victim
- grant exclusive possession of the residence to the plaintiff
- provide for temporary child custody and parenting time
- require the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for losses caused by the defendant
- require the defendant to receive counseling or a psychiatric evaluation
- prohibit the defendant from entering the plaintiff’s residence, workplace, or school
- prohibit the defendant from contacting the plaintiff
- require the defendant to pay the rent or mortgage on the plaintiff’s residence
- provide for the temporary possession of specified property, and
- and prohibit the defendant from possessing a firearm.
If an offender violates an issued restraining order, the crime will be considered in the fourth degree which carries possible penalties of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Domestic Violence Penalties
If the defendant was the physical aggressor in the situation and committed a simple assault against a family or household member, they could face a penalty of a fine in excess of $1,000 if the assault took place as a result of a fight or imprisonment for up to 18 months and a fine in excess of $1,000 if the defendant was in the presence of a child 16 years of age or younger when the assault took place.
If the defendant was the physical aggressor in the situation and committed aggravated assault against a family or household member, they could face a variety of penalties depending upon the severity of the aggravated assault. For example, the crime of aggravated assault ranges from a lower level crime of the fourth degree to a higher level crime of the second degree. A defendant found guilty of committing a second degree crime could face a prison term between five to 10 years and a fine in excess of $150,000. A defendant found guilty of committing a third degree crime could face a prison term between three to five years and a fine in excess of $15,000. A defendant found guilty of committing a fourth degree crime could face imprisonment up to 18 months and a fine in excess of $10,000.