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What Is The Legal Criteria For Domestic Violence Charges?


In New Jersey, domestic violence can refer to two separate things, although it would mostly refer to a domestic violence restraining order. The domestic violence restraining order balances two separate areas: family law and criminal law. In order to get a domestic violence restraining order, the parties would first have to be in a domestic relationship.

The second thing is the commission of a predicate act would have to be there, which would usually be a criminal offense such as stalking, harassment, assault, terroristic threats and things of that nature. The third criteria is there would also have to be a rational fear that a permanent restraining order was required. The person would usually be charged with a criminal offense and a restraining order would also be issued against them, so they would have committed a felony if they violated that restraining order. It is taken extremely seriously in the courts and by the prosecutors.

At the same time, a temporary restraining order would be issued against them and they would have to attend court so the judge could decide whether the restraining order would be issued. It can be a scary situation because technically anything could be a commission of an act of domestic violence, such as harassment.

The person could send a text to their spouse calling them a jerk, and some people might consider that harassment, although the question would be whether it was more than the everyday things that people say to each other in a relationship. They would need to consider whether this was something for which the person would need to be permanently restrained against.

Permanent restraints are very serious because they would result in the person having to get fingerprinted. They will also be entered in the lifetime domestic violence database, so every time they went for a job, they would come up on that database and would be prohibited from doing certain jobs. They would certainly be prohibited from coaching any sort of youth sports or having any access to children or teaching jobs. There would be a lot of repercussions from it, even though it was a civil matter.

This doesn’t even get into all the power that judges have with the final restraining order, but that is more or less a basic background of what the person would be dealing with.

What Is A Domestic Relationship In These Domestic Violence Situations?

It could be any sort of relationship where the person was in a dating relationship, either past or present. The law would not have any qualms about taking recognition of all sorts of relationships, be they gay, straight, or bisexual; it could be father and son, lover and girlfriend, or it could even be someone living in a rental apartment with a roommate. Any type of relationship where the person was sharing a domestic relationship, or they had a former dating relationship, would be recognized.

Something that has come up in a lot in cases is that people use the restraining orders as a sword rather than a shield, meaning these orders were meant to protect people, but because of the enormous amount of powers that the judiciary has, one of the things they could do is restrain the person from coming back to their own home. These are called chancery proceedings so the judges would not be limited in what they could do.

If an unmarried couple purchased property together, and then one of them filed a restraining order against the other, the other person would then be barred from living in the home but they would still have an obligation to pay that mortgage. They would still have to pay the bills but they would be restrained from their own home. This is sometimes a ruse and it would be done because someone understood the way the law worked and they were able to find someone who was gullible enough to buy a house with them and then they could try to use the law as a sword rather than a shield.

What Should People Know About Domestic Violence Cases?

People need to be aware of the extensive powers of an equity judge, the varying levels of relationships that qualify for a domestic violence case, the availability of civil restraints as a way to get around a tiff where everybody got what they wanted, and finally, the importance of knowing how to advocate the cycle of domestic violence in a case.

What Court Hears Domestic Violence Cases?

Firstly, the TRO could be issued either by the family court, if someone went to the Family Court and made their own application, or when the police came to investigate a criminal offense and then contacted the Municipal Court judge who could also issue a TRO. There would then be a hearing in the Family Court before a Family Court judge to determine whether or not that TRO should be dismissed or if it should be converted into a final restraining order.

At the same time, if a criminal act had been alleged, then that could also be prosecuted at the same time as a criminal offense in either of the Municipal Courts where disorderly person offenses were handled. If it was a serious enough crime, it could be handled in the Superior Court as an indictable crime or felony.

The case could, and often would be heard in two different court systems, the Family Court and the Criminal Court, which is something defendants sometimes get into trouble with because they would have a court notice for Family Court, and then thinking they already went there, they would not go to the Criminal Court, and then all of a sudden there would be a warrant for their arrest.

Do Any Cases In Particular Stand Out Relating To Domestic Violence?

I do not think I have handled a single domestic violence case that did not have some sort of craziness going on. It can get very extreme when people have to go to the courts to end a relationship. There have been times where there were falsifications of charges, cases involving same sex couples, cases where people were undergoing dramatic control from the other person, and cases where there was drug and alcohol addiction on both sides of the case. There is generally never a dull moment when dealing with domestic violence cases.

For more information on Domestic Violence Cases, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (908) 210-9755 today.

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