Domestic violence restraining order cases are on the rise in New Jersey. A 2015 report from the New Jersey courts revealed that 32,691 domestic violence complaints were filed in NJ Family Court in 2015, which was 950 more complaints than were filed in 2014. This statistic echoes the sad truth that domestic violence is prevalent across every demographic, with one out of every four women and one out of every seven men experiencing physical violence at the hands of a partner at some point in their lifetimes. In other words, domestic violence transcends gender, age, race, and economics. As put by Claudia Ratzlaff, CEO of the Women’s Center in Atlantic County, “Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence.”
In New Jersey, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (“PDVA”) controls how to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) and what is needed to get a final restraining order (FRO) against a perpetrator of domestic violence
The first requirement is that the plaintiff must have standing to apply for a restraining order. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d), a victim of domestic violence is any person who is 18 years of age or older or who is an emancipated minor and who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present or former household member; any person, regardless of age, who has been subjected to domestic violence by 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; or any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship. So long as one of these requirements is satisfied, the victim should have standing to apply for a temporary restraining order.
The second requirement to obtain a TRO is that a predicate act of domestic violence must have taken place. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 (1) through (19), there are 19 acts that constitute domestic violence in New Jersey: homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, cyber-harassment, stalking, criminal coercion, robbery, contempt of a domestic violence order, and any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury. If one of these acts occurred, then the victim can obtain a temporary restraining order.
Finally, in order for a TRO to become an FRO, a judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, Family Part, must make a determination following a trial that a final restraining order is necessary to protect the victim from the perpetrator. During a final restraining order hearing, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence, or 51 percent, that an act of domestic violence occurred and that the protections of a final restraining order are necessary.
New Jersey Domestic Violence Restraining Order Hearings
If you or a loved one is involved in a domestic violence relationship and needs to obtain a temporary restraining order or get ready for a final restraining order trial, contact the New Jersey restraining order lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm to learn more about how we can help you prevail.