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Domestic Violence Charges Based on False DCPP Reports

Published: April 11, 2024

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Facing a Domestic Violence Charge Based on Fictitious Report to Child Protective Services in New Jersey

DCPP is Vital in Protecting Kids, Especially in Domestic Violence Cases. But What If Someone Files a False Report to Harass The Child’s Parent?

Accused of Harassment for a False Report to DCPP in NJ

New Jersey’s Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) plays a vital role in keeping children safe, especially in the domestic violence context. Divorcing parents or others in volatile relationships pose threats to one another but also to children. Those in destructive relationships can be blind to the dangers to children as they are caught up in their anger and survival. As such, DCPP depends on anonymous reports of endangered children from concerned neighbors, relatives, and citizens. But what happens when the person reporting child abuse or neglect is filing a false report to harass the child’s parent?

Contact us today for experienced legal assistance in navigating false DCPP reports and domestic violence charges in Somerville, Cranford, Hackensack, Clifton, Bergenfield, Garfield, or elsewhere in New Jersey. Our experienced team can help with defending you against senseless allegations that may lead to criminal charges and a restraining order. Call now for a free consultation at (908)-336-5008.

Reporting Child Abuse in Intimate Partner Conflicts in New Jersey

Emotions can run wild when couples break up, and revenge is not uncommon. So, when one spouse feels helpless and out of control, they may resort to getting back at the other spouse any way they can, including abusing the child protection system. Reporting a parent for child abuse or neglect is a serious betrayal between intimate partners but also between DCPP and the public, which it relies on for help in protecting children.

In fact, New Jersey law shields anyone who reports an incident to DCPP in the context of domestic violence. New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families states on its website that anyone who reports or testifies “in good faith” to child abuse or neglect is “immune from any criminal or civil liability.” Title 9, Section 9:6-8.13 grants absolute immunity to voluntary or mandated reports to DCPP. By law, all New Jerseyans are mandated reporters when they reasonably suspect child abuse or neglect.

Immunity in Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect vs. False, Harassing DCPP Reports

Such immunity promotes the reporting of child endangerment when the law protects the reporter against criminal prosecution and civil liability. As a result, those who report child abuse or neglect are immune from prosecution for harassment under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) unless the report is made fictitiously or with malice based on nothing but unsubstantiated claims. Harassment is one of the predicate acts of domestic violence action. However, one who falsely complains to DCPP does not have absolute immunity, according to the Superior Court case, EW v. W.M.-H.

There, the defendant retaliated against the plaintiff for filing a criminal and civil complaint for money the defendant owed to her. After learning of the complaints, the defendant filed a DCPP complaint implicating the plaintiff. In its decision to grant a restraining order against the defendant, the court noted that it could not reconcile the aims of immunity for child protection reports and that of the PDVA in the context of a false, harassing DCPP report.

The court explained that both immunity and the PDVA protect children, but granting immunity for a false complaint would not protect children subject to domestic violence. Moreover, it would expose them to potential harm when the harasser fears no consequences of retaliation. The court determined that allowing one to harass another with a false DCPP report essentially “weaponizes” the DCPP referral as a harassment tool and defeats the purpose of child protection by both the PDVA and the DCPP immunity statute. Thus, this case sets a precedent for denying immunity to those who complain to DCPP in bad faith. So, the defendant in EW was subject to a restraining order for the predicate act of harassment by filing a false report.

Charged with Harassment for Making a False Report of Child Abuse in NJ

Regarding domestic violence, an individual who vindictively files a DCPP report risks a conviction for harassment and a permanent restraining order. NJSA 2C:33-4 defines harassment as committing acts to annoy, seriously alarm, offend, or subject another to “offensive touching.” A conviction for harassment leads to a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $500.00 fine. However, it is a fourth degree crime to harass another while incarcerated or on parole or probation. A conviction means up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.

Our seasoned domestic violence defense lawyers can help you defend yourself against an accusation of harassment based on a false DCPP report.  Based on the situation and the factors at play, we can assist you in showing that you were only charged with harassment in retaliation for filing a child abuse report and prompting an investigation by DCPP. We can also assist you with fighting a restraining order.

At a restraining order hearing, our team knows how to skillfully present your testimony of good faith reporting to DCPP and right to immunity, distinguishing your acts from those in the case discussed above. A judge grants or denies a final restraining order after hearing the evidence presented by both sides. Thus, we can review your case and determine the best way to refute the plaintiff’s evidence of harassment and the need for a restraining order.

Falsely Accused of Child Abuse in a Domestic Violence Context in NJ

If you have been falsely accused of child abuse, a knowledgeable attorney on our legal team can intervene on your behalf. We can potentially demonstrate that you are in a contentious divorce or custody battle with the person who likely made a false child abuse or neglect report to gain an advantage. Informing DCPP of the false report may influence the investigation in your favor. However, when the case proceeds to a complaint in court, you can count on our lawyers to present evidence to the judge of a false report or likelihood of such a reporting in bad faith. We can also help you file a restraining order against the dishonest reporter on the grounds of harassment.

Need Help with a False Claim Involving DYFS and Domestic Abuse in New Jersey

Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant, having a lawyer with years of experience can go a long way in your domestic violence or child abuse action in Edison, Elizabeth, New Brunswick, Bridgewater, Oradell, Palisades Park, Morristown, and other towns in New Jersey. Restraining orders provide necessary safety, protection, and peace of mind to a victim. On the other hand, a permanent restraining order can restrict a defendant from living a free life. Our attorneys handle domestic violence cases leading to restraining orders and criminal charges, DCPP investigations based on accusations of child abuse or domestic violence in the household, and related proceedings. Protect your family and yourself with confident legal representation. Start today with a free consultation by calling (908)-336-5008.

Filed under: Child Abuse, Domestic Violence Offenses, Family Law Issues

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With offices in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark, Middletown, and New Brunswick, our lawyers can represent you anywhere in New Jersey and are available immediately to assist you at (908)-336-5008

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Hackensack, NJ 07601

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Morristown, NJ 07960

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Newark, NJ 07102

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for a free initial consultation Contact the Tormey Law Firm

Travis J. Tormey is a distinguished member of the legal community and a respected legal resource on domestic violence. He has been featured in a variety of prominent publications and media outlets, including CBS radio, Aol News, the Asbury Park Press,, and the Daily Record. Mr. Tormey has also been recognized as one of the the top criminal attorneys under 40 years of age by the National Trial Lawyers Association and the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Whether representing victims or the wrongly accused, Travis remains passionately committed to protecting the rights of the innocent.

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The Tormey Law Firm LLC handles restraining order cases in Bergen County (Hackensack), Morris County (Morristown), Passaic County (Paterson), Union County (Elizabeth), Hudson County (Jersey City), Middlesex County (New Brunswick), Somerset County (Somerville), Sussex County (Newton), Essex County (Newark), Hunterdon County (Flemington), Mercer County (Trenton), Monmouth County (Freehold), Warren County (Belvidere), Ocean County (Toms River), Burlington County (Mount Holly), and throughout NJ.

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