Trespassing As an Act of Domestic Violence in NJ
Criminal Trespass – One of the Predicate Acts of Domestic Violence
Criminal Trespass (known as “trespassing”) is a predicate act of domestic violence in NJ which involves being in a place where you do not have permission or license to enter or remain. In order to constitute trespassing, the other party must have made it clear to you that you do not have permission to be in their house, car, on their property, etc. The plaintiff in a restraining order case must prove a predicate act of domestic violence occurred in order to obtain a final restraining order.
The restraining order defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm LLC have successfully handled restraining order cases in practically every county in New Jersey. In fact, Mr. Tormey has been recognized as a top trial lawyer under 40 years of age by the National Trial Lawyers Association and by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In addition, Mr. Tormey has been cited by numerous publications as a legal resource on domestic violence including appearing on CBS Radio concerning the Ray Rice aggravated assault domestic violence case in New Jersey. If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance regarding a restraining order matter in NJ, you’ve come to the right place. We represent clients throughout New Jersey including in Totowa, Wayne, Clifton, and Passaic City. Contact our offices anytime for immediate assistance at (908)-336-5008. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.
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 Trespass (“Trespassing”)
One of the potential predicate acts of domestic violence in New Jersey is known as criminal trespass or trespassing. Trespassing is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3 which provides in pertinent part:
a. Unlicensed entry of structures. A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or surreptitiously remains in any research facility, structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof, or in or upon utility company property. An offense under this subsection is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a school or on school property. The offense is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a dwelling. An offense under this section is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a research facility, power generation facility, waste treatment facility, public sewage facility, water treatment facility, public water facility, nuclear electric generating plant or any facility which stores, generates or handles any hazardous chemical or chemical compounds. An offense under this subsection is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in or upon utility company property. Otherwise it is a disorderly persons offense.
b. Defiant trespasser. A person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
(1) Actual communication to the actor; or
(2) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
(3) Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
c. Peering into windows or other openings of dwelling places. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he peers into a window or other opening of a dwelling or other structure adapted for overnight accommodation for the purpose of invading the privacy of another person and under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the dwelling or other structure would not expect to be observed.
Proving Trespassing at a Restraining Order Trial – What Evidence Can I use?
In order to establish trespassing as a predicate act of domestic violence at a final restraining order hearing (FRO), the plaintiff must establish that either sections a, b, or c were violated above under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3.
Whether or not a defendant has been arrested and charged criminally with trespassing has no bearing on the restraining order case. The criminal charge will be handled in criminal court and the charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, the restraining order will be handled in the Family Division of the Superior Court.
It is important to remember that, although trespassing is a criminal charge and we use the criminal statute under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3, 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.
Typical evidence utilized by a Plaintiff to prove trespassing as a predicate act of domestic violence at a restraining order hearing include:
- Plaintiff’s testimony
- Witness testimony if anyone saw the defendant enter the property or if they saw the plaintiff tell the defendant he was not welcome
- Police officers testimony if they responded to the scene
- Police reports
- Emails, texts, voicemails, social media messages – Anything that establishes the plaintiff told the defendant not to return to the property
Just proving trespassing is not enough for the Judge to grant a final restraining order in New Jersey. A plaintiff must also show a prior history of domestic violence and that he or she is reasonable to be in fear of the defendant and needs the protection that a restraining order provides. Only then should a final restraining order be issued in Court.
Paterson Restraining Order Help – The Tormey Law Firm
For more information, contact Travis Tormey directly at (908)-336-5008.