Criminal Sexual Contact Allegations of Domestic Violence
Predicate Acts of Domestic Violence in NJ – Criminal Sexual Contact
Criminal Sexual Contact is one of the predicate acts of domestic violence in New Jersey which constitutes sexual assault but does not involve penetration. If you or a loved one has a restraining order case in New Jersey and are in need of legal assistance, the Tormey Law Firm LLC can help. Our experienced restraining order attorneys have handled these types of cases in practically every county in the State of NJ. As a result, our lawyers are ready and able to assist you with your restraining order case immediately. We represent clients throughout New Jersey including in Edison, Woodbridge, Old Bridge, and Piscataway. Contact our offices anytime for a free initial consultation at (908)-336-5008.
Travis J. Tormey has been cited in numerous publications including the Star Ledger, Daily Record, Bergen Record, Asbury Park Press and AOL News. He has also appeared as a legal expert on CBS radio with regards to domestic violence in New Jersey. Mr. Tormey has received numerous awards from the American Trial Lawyers Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He also received the clients choice awards from Avvo.com in ’13, ’14’, and ’15 and is a 10.0 rating.
Here is a review from one of the many satisfied restraining order clients of the Tormey Law Firm:
Posted by Maria
“My brother had actually consulted and hired Mr Travis Tormey in regards to a TRO against him. Things got a bit more complicated whereas I needed to contact the law office several times and spoke with Joanne, who was extremely helpful, patient and totally understanding. When I had to speak to Travis I would text him and he would communicate with me in a timely fashion considering he was busy in court or had to wait to hear from his partners, who were also involved in the case. Overall the professionalism and expertise in their field was exceptional. In court they defended my brother with such compassion and dedication to their client. At the conclusion, case was dismissed thanks to both Travis and Tom. They demonstrated their strong capabilities and passion that I feel merit them a five star review. I would definitely recommend this law firm to anyone in need of legal advice or defense.”
Predicate Acts of Domestic Violence in NJ: Criminal Sexual Contact
The New Jersey statute which governs criminal sexual contact is N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3. The statute provides, in pertinent part:
a. An actor is guilty of aggravated criminal sexual contact if he commits an act of sexual contact with the victim under any of the circumstances set forth in 2C:14-2 a.(2) through (7).
Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a crime of the third degree.
b. An actor is guilty of criminal sexual contact if he commits an act of sexual contact with the victim under any of the circumstances set forth in section 2C:14-2 c. (1) through (4).
Criminal sexual contact is a crime of the fourth degree.
Proving Criminal Sexual Contact in NJ Restraining Order Case
As the above statute states, the predicate act of criminal sexual contact requires the plaintiff to prove a violation of N.J.S.A. 2c:14-3. However, this statute refers back to N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2 which is aggravated sexual assault. As a result, basically anything that would have been an aggravated sexual assault but does not include penetration can be argued as criminal sexual contact.
NOTE: It is also important to remember that, although criminal sexual contact is a criminal charge and we use the criminal statute under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3, the plaintiff must only establish the civil standard of “preponderance of evidence” in a restraining order case because a restraining order is civil in nature. Preponderance of evidence is a “more likely than not” standard so the plaintiff must establish 51% that the offense was committed and that is sufficient in a civil case.
What’s the difference between a Domestic Violence Restraining Order and a Sexual Assault Protection Order?
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, or “PDVA”, is the governing law New Jersey concerning restraining orders. The Act was passed to protect domestic violence victims by providing swift emergent relief in the form of a protective order. Similarly, but not entirely the same, the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act, or “SASPA”, is a statute enacted to protect sexual assault survivors.
Each Act is very similar, and both were passed to protect injured residents. Again, the Domestic Violence Act seeks to end the cycle of domestic abuse and the Sexual Assault Act is designed to shield survivors from future acts of sexual violence. Many would say, the difference is immaterial, can’t I just call the police or visit the Court and request help. In some cases, yes. If a very helpful officer or clerk is assigned to your matter, you may be guided in the right direction. However, if an insensitive or unknowledgeable person is contacted, your case may be processed improperly. Moreover, as discussed in more detail below, when the matter proceeds to a hearing, you need to fully understand what the Judge is searching for if you want the Judge to grant a final and permanent order in your favor. Keep in mind, the Court cannot provide you with legal guidance in the middle of a hearing and unlike a criminal case, neither party is appointed an attorney. Thus, it is very important to understand the laws and procedures surrounding both laws.
The major difference between the PDVA and SASPA is who qualifies for a protective order. Under the Domestic Violence Act, a “victim” of domestic violence is defined as a 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. Also, a “victim” of domestic violence also includes 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. The Act further defines “victim” of domestic violence to include any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.
Contrary to what many citizens believe, not any person can file for a protective order against anyone. Meaning, an angry neighbor cannot seek a restraining order against another neighbor, and an upset coworker cannot file for an order of protection against a colleague. As detailed above, the parties must have a domestic type of relationship. With that in mind, if you plan on filing for a restraining order, you must be able to demonstrate that you fit into the statutory definition.
Conversely, the Sexual Assault Protection Act has a much narrower qualification of who can seek a protective act. Under the Act, only victims of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness may file for a protective order. Plus, individuals seeking the order cannot be eligible for a restraining order in accordance with the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In sum, a person may seek an order under the Sexual Assault Act if he or she is a victim of a sexual assault type of offense and did not, or does not, have a domestic type of relationship with the perpetrator.
SASPA was passed with the principal goal of protecting “date rape” and stranger to stranger assaults. Sadly, the PDVA does not offer relief to individuals under those set of circumstances. As emphasized above, a person seeking a restraining order may only file if he or she has a domestic type of relationship in accordance with the definition outlined in the statute. As such, a person who was sexually assaulted but did not have a “dating relationship” with the perpetrator, may not seek an order of protection. However, with the passing of the Sexual Assault Protection Act, that major flaw in our legislation scheme has been mended.
Another difference is the type of offenses covered under each statute. The Domestic Violence Act contains a wide array of offenses, otherwise known as predicate acts, which include:
- Terroristic Threats
- Sexual Assault
- Criminal Sexual Contact
- Criminal Restraint
- False Imprisonment
- Criminal Mischief
- Criminal Trespass
- Criminal Coercion
- Harassment, and
- Cyber harassment
As you can see, the PDVA is very broad and was passed to guard against a wide array of abusive behavior. The Sexual Assault Act only lists three type of offenses:
- Nonconsensual Sexual contact,
- Nonconsensual sexual penetration, and
True to its name, the SASPA is more targeted and aimed at protecting sesxual assault surviors. As such, the statutory acts are limited to sexual offenses.
How do I file for a Protective Order?
The process and procedures to obtain a protective order under each Act are identical. Each entails a two-step process. First, the survivor can either contact their local police department or visit the Family Court within their county. If the person is filing for the order during the week, between normal business hours, it is generally best to contact the Court. Typically, if you visit the police, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:00 through 5:00, they will instruct the person to visit the Court. However, if an individual is seeking the order after hours on the weekend, he or she may contact the police and the police are legally mandated to offer assistance.
After contacting the police or speaking with a clerk at the Court, a Judge will be contacted. From there, the applicant must explain, under oath, why he or she needs a protective order. If the Judge determines that an order is warranted, the Judge will issue a Temporary Protective Order. Thereafter, the temporary order will be served upon the perpetrator and a court date will be scheduled within 10-days.
At this juncture, both parties are obligated to appear in Court. Typically, the matter will be scheduled for a subsequent date so each party, especially, the defendant has sufficient time to prepare. Then, at the second court appearance, that is the hearing date. This is the second step in the process. At the hearing date, the survivor must present his or her proofs to establish that a final and permanent order of protection is needed. On the other side, the defendant is entitled to challenge the proofs and offer evidence of their own to try to persuade the Judge that the claims are false, or a protective order is not justified.
Morristown Restraining Order Attorney – We Can Help
For additional assistance regarding your restraining order case in NJ, contact the Tormey Law Firm directly at (908)-336-5008. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.