New Brunswick Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers
Handling Criminal Charges and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders in New Brunswick, NJ
The police just knocked on my door and served me with a temporary restraining order in New Brunswick, New Jersey and it says I am the defendant. Where did the plaintiff go to get this restraining order? If the matter has not been transferred from another county, it is likely Plaintiff (or the person complaining of the domestic violence allegations against you) visited the Middlesex County Superior Court during their normal business hours of 8:30am through 4:30pm, located at 56 Paterson Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08903. If the Court is closed, the New Brunswick Police Department may have helped the plaintiff get the temporary restraining order issued. The New Brunswick Police Department is located at 25 Kirkpatrick Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. In certain circumstances, when the Superior Court is closed, sometimes individuals are directed to visit the New Brunswick Municipal Court, for a temporary restraining order. The New Brunswick Municipal Court is also located at 25 Kirkpatrick Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.
What happens once a restraining order is served?
All restraining orders in New Jersey start out as temporary. Then, approximately ten days after the issuance of the temporary restraining order, you will have to appear in the Middlesex County Superior Court regarding the allegations in the restraining order, to have the ability to present a defense and for the Court to determine if the order needs to be permanent. It is best not to wait to hire an attorney so that you can fully understand the elements of a final restraining hearing order right from the start and to zealously defend against the allegations you are facing.
How do I fight false allegations of domestic violence?
What if the allegations against me in this temporary restraining order are false accusations of domestic violence asserted by the plaintiff? Allegations of domestic violence have serious consequences. If you believe the allegations are false, it is important to develop a strong defense strategy with an attorney to refute these claims because there is a lot at risk when accused of domestic violence. For example, not only do you face fines and a potential criminal record, but you also face significant restrictions associated with the restraining order that have both short-term and long-term effects. When it comes to domestic violence, there are numerous situations that can lead to the issuance of a temporary restraining order, but when false allegations are purported, it makes the issuance of a restraining order that much more devastating to the defendant. Alleging domestic violence against a defendant should always be grounded in good faith, however, because so much is at stake some individuals tend to use the contentions as an advantage in other proceedings. It is important whether the facts are true or false to be prepared to defend against the restraining order with a strong defense strategy.
For a plaintiff to successfully file a restraining order against a defendant, there must be a qualifying relationship under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence statute, one or more predicate acts of domestic violence have been committed by the defendant, and a continued need for protection. The Court refers to the predicate act of domestic violence as prong one of Silver v. Silver and the continued need for protection as prong two. This landmark case has become the foundation for restraining order hearings in New Jersey. Thus, the Court looks at the two prongs in Silver v. Silver to determine if the plaintiff has met his or her evidentiary burden to establish if moving forward with a final restraining order is necessary.
What is a predicate act of domestic violence?
What is a predicate act of domestic violence? A predicate act of domestic violence is a current act of violence that proves a plaintiff needs a restraining order for protection. In New Jersey, there are over eighteen acts which can be considered predicate act(s) of domestic violence. These predicate acts can lead to quasi-criminal charges, which means that in addition to the restraining order, governed by the Chancery Division, Family Part, there are charges governed by the Criminal Part of the Middlesex County Superior Court or the New Brunswick Municipal Court.
Harassment and Cyber-Harassment As Acts of Domestic Violence in New Jersey
The most notorious predicate acts of domestic violence are harassment and cyber-harassment. Given society’s shift toward social media and being readily able to connect with others through messaging or other social networking platforms, cyber-harassment has become a significant component of restraining order hearings. For example, if the defendant posts inappropriate or intimate photos and/or videos of the plaintiff on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and more, the plaintiff can allege cyber-harassment. Evidence of these acts can be proven through printing out photos, providing a screenshot and saving the videos so that it can be presented at the Court hearing. It is important to note that any party can allege cyber-harassment and it is crucial to speak with an attorney to see if it applies in your case. Not only may you be facing the final restraining order, but cyber-harassment carries its own criminal penalties and fines. Overall, social media with respect to allegations of cyber-harassment, can be a double-edged sword. For one, it can be used as tangible evidence of the defendant’s predicate act of harassment against plaintiff. While on the other hand, screenshots of images, videos, copies of social media posts and more can be used to refute the allegations as well.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C-33-4.1, a person commits cyber-harassment when he or she makes a “communication in an online capacity via any electronic device or through social networking with the purpose to harass another…” This can be done through the party “threaten[ing] to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person,” by “knowingly send[ing], post[ing], comment[ing], request[ing], suggest[ing] or propos[ing]” any offensive “material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm” or “place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm”, or “threaten[ing] to commit any crime against the person” or his/her “property.” “Cyber-harassment is a crime of the fourth degree, unless the person is a minor” or is under 21 and “impersonates a minor for the purpose of cyber-harassing” another minor.
Although the definition under the statute can be considered broad, the actual conduct and the intent to harass the other party are the main elements to this crime. While each case presents its own facts and circumstances, the act of cyber-harassment may bleed into other crimes, such as cyber-stalking, terroristic threats, revenge porn and more.
Plaintiff has the Burden of Proof at a Restraining Order Hearing
For restraining order hearings, and under the pivotal case Silver v. Silver, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove the predicate act of domestic violence and the need for protection. As described above, a predicate act or history of such can be proven in countless ways. But, what makes a reasonable person fear for his or her safety enough that it will require him or her continued protection under the second prong of Silver? The Court looks at the plaintiff’s ability to meet his or her burden of proof and examines whether the defendant: acted violently, threatens or threatened plaintiff, stalked plaintiff, harassed/harasses plaintiff and more. The underlying circumstances and evidence presented at the hearing allow the Court to determine if the plaintiff needs the restraining order for protection from imminent danger of potential abuse in the future.
If you are the plaintiff or defendant in a restraining order, or the defendant in criminal matter for cyber-harassment, call The Tormey Law Firm today so we can help you navigate and understand current/future impact of your charges/allegations.