21 Sep 23

NJ Domestic Violence Cases in New Jersey – Who Is a Victim – Law of Arrest – Relief Provided to Victims – Penalties That Apply Lawyers

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Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 06:52 pm


NJ Domestic Violence Cases – A Guide for Victims

Dealing with domestic violence is scary and overwhelming. If you’re a victim, know that you’re not alone and there are people who can help. This article will walk you through the basics of domestic violence laws and cases in New Jersey, who is considered a victim, the process after an arrest, relief available for victims, penalties for offenders, and more. We’ll also provide plenty of links to great resources.

First off, what qualifies as domestic violence in New Jersey? Domestic violence involves a pattern of abusive behavior used to gain power and control over an intimate partner. This includes physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats that influence another person. Some examples are hitting, shoving, sexual assault, stalking, name-calling, intimidation, isolating someone from friends/family, and restricting access to money.

Who Is Considered a Domestic Violence Victim in NJ?

Under New Jersey law, domestic violence victims include:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Current or former domestic partners
  • People who have a child together
  • People currently or formerly living together
  • Dating relationships (including same-sex couples)
  • People protected under a domestic violence restraining order

Victims can be any age, race, gender, or economic background. Men can also be victims. If someone you know is threatening, hurting, or controlling you, you deserve help.

What Happens After a Domestic Violence Arrest in NJ?

New Jersey has mandatory arrest laws for domestic violence. This means if the police respond to a domestic violence call and have probable cause, they are required to arrest the suspected aggressor no matter what the victim says. The alleged offender will be taken into custody, processed, and transported to jail.

Within 12 hours after arrest, the accused will go before a judge who will decide whether to:

  • Release the defendant on their own recognizance
  • Set bail terms and a bond amount
  • Keep the defendant in jail until the resolution of the case

Defendants who are released will be ordered to have no contact with the victim. They may also have to comply with other conditions like surrendering weapons, drug/alcohol testing, counseling, etc. Failure to follow these orders can result in new charges or jail time.

Seeking a Restraining Order for Domestic Violence

Victims of domestic violence in New Jersey can get a temporary restraining order (TRO) that provides emergency protections. This is an important step to create distance from the abuser and prevent further violence. Here’s how it works:

  1. File for a TRO at your county’s family court office during business hours or your local police station after hours. Describe the abuse and why you fear more harm if the order isn’t granted.
  2. If approved, the judge will issue a TRO effective immediately. This may order the abuser to stop contacting you, leave the home, surrender weapons, pay temporary child support, etc.
  3. Within 10 days, there will be a court hearing where the judge decides whether to finalize the restraining order, called a final restraining order (FRO), which can last up to a lifetime.
  4. Make sure to attend the FRO hearing. You can get help preparing and give testimony about the abuse.
  5. If the FRO is granted, the judge will order protections like those in the TRO. Defendants who violate an FRO face criminal charges.

Getting a restraining order quickly is important for your safety. This NJ Courts guide has more details on the process and forms to file.

Other Legal Relief for Domestic Violence Victims

In addition to a restraining order, there are other legal remedies victims can pursue in civil court including:

  • Divorce – Victims may want to end the marriage, especially if abuse is ongoing. Domestic violence can be grounds for an at-fault divorce in NJ.
  • Child custody – Victims with children can file for temporary custody during divorce/separation proceedings to protect the kids.
  • Financial assistance – Victims can request financial support like alimony and child support to gain independence.
  • Reimbursement – Abusers can be ordered to repay victims for costs like medical bills, damaged property, counseling, etc.

These remedies allow victims to safely leave abusive relationships and build stable lives. A family law attorney can help pursue them.

Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in NJ

Domestic violence is a serious crime in New Jersey. Exact penalties depend on the circumstances of each case, but possible punishments include:

  • Restraining order – Keeping the abuser away from the victim.
  • Fines – Up to $7,500 for disorderly persons offenses, up to $15,000 for crimes.
  • Probation – 1-5 years of supervised release with conditions like counseling.
  • Jail time – Up to 30 days for disorderly persons offenses, up to 5-10 years for crimes.

Penalties increase for repeat offenders and if the abuse involves strangulation, weapons, or severe injury. Charges can also never be expunged from a criminal record.

Getting Legal Help for Domestic Violence

The whole legal process around domestic violence cases can be really intimidating. But know that help is out there!

For victims needing legal advice and representation, a domestic violence lawyer can guide you through restraining orders, custody disputes, divorce proceedings, and more. They’ll advocate for your rights every step of the way.

If you can’t afford an attorney, Legal Services of New Jersey provides free legal assistance to low-income victims. You can apply online or call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-572-7233.

The NJ Police Training Commission also has a great guide on the legal aspects of domestic violence cases. It helps police properly handle incidents and work with victims.

Don’t stay silent about domestic abuse. You have rights in New Jersey, and there are people ready to help. With the right support, you can break free and move towards a better future.