New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer
In the state of New Jersey, domestic violence is the actual or threatened physical, sexual, emotional, or economic abuse by someone who has an intimate relationship with the victim of abuse. New Jersey defines intimate partner or relationship as someone with whom the victim is or was married to, living or lived with, is or has dated, or has or anticipates having a child in common with.
Depending on the circumstances and abuser’s conduct, the abuser may be charged with a variety of offenses and can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse are much more common than many people realize and it can be detrimental to everyone in the household.
While many offenders apologize and vow to change, studies indicate that abusive behaviors tend to cycle and worsen. If you are living with domestic violence, it is important you understand your rights and address the issue before it escalates.
Bart W. Lombardo Attorney At Law is committed to ensuring that you and your family enjoy the safety and security you deserve. Our counsel makes full utilization of the New Jersey Domestic Violence Prevention Act to provide firm legal protection for all victims of abuse (including immediate relief in the form of a restraining order), as well as to preserve the due rights of those falsely accused.
Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991
Under New Jersey state law, a victim of domestic violence has the right to file both a civil and criminal complaint. The civil complaint will allow the victim to obtain a restraining order for protection, while the criminal complaint will lead to the charging and punishment of the abuser. In 1991, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was put in place to assure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse that the law can provide. History has proven that there are thousands of people in New Jersey who are regularly beaten or tortured by their spouses or cohabitants. Domestic violence is a serious crime against society that spans all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. Statistics indicate that a significant number of domestic violence victims are pregnant women and there is a positive correlation between spousal abuse and child abuse. Even when children are not, themselves, abused, but witness the domestic violence of a parent, it causes deep and lasting emotional effects.
Criminal Offences That Are Domestic Violence in New Jersey
Under New Jersey state law, there are several criminal offenses that constitute as domestic violence and are covered under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. Here is a list of the crimes as they pertain to domestic violence.
– attempting to cause serious bodily injury or knowingly or purposely causes injury with indifference to human life; recklessly causes bodily harm with a deadly weapon or points a firearm at another person.
– purposely or knowingly causing death or serious bodily injury that results in death.
– threatening a crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another person or threatening death to where the victim fears that death is imminent or that the act will likely be carried out.
– unlawfully removing or confining a person with the intent to inflict bodily injury or to terrorize the victim.
– restrains another person, exposing them to risk of serious bodily injury or holds another person in a condition of involuntary servitude.
– knowingly restrains another person so as to interfere with their liberty.
– Using physical force, coercion, or control over another person to commit an act of sexual penetration.
Criminal Sexual Contact
– using force, coercion, or control over another person to sexually touch or be touched by the victim for the purpose of degradation or humiliation of the victim or for the sexual arousal or gratification of the actor.
– committing a flagrant lewd (sexually offensive and lustful) and offensive act which is intended to be observed by a non-consenting person with the intention of being alarming.
– purposely or knowingly tampers with the property of another or damaging or destroying the property of another person.
– entering or remaining on property that the offender has no lawful right to be on, for the purpose of committing a felony or larceny.
– the unlawful or unlicensed entering or remaining in a place where the offender has been notified verbally or in writing that they are intruding.
– makes communication at inconvenient or persistent times, uses offensively coarse language, or intends to cause annoyance or alarm; subjects another person to striking, kicking, shoving, offensive touching, or threatens to do so; engages in any alarming conduct or repeats acts with the purpose of alarming or annoying another person.
– purposefully or knowingly engages in conduct directed at a specific person that causes them to fear for their safety or the safety of a third-party person or causes the victim to suffer emotional distress; charges are escalated if the stalking is in violation of an existing order of protection.
Protections Afforded to Victims Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
To help keep the victims of domestic violence protected, there are several protection options afforded under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
Orders that are issued by a judge limit or restrict access of an abuser to their victim. To protect the victim against the offender, court orders may issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) while the charges are pending, before a final restraining order can be issued. The restraining order can include terms such as:
- Forbiddance from returning to the scene of the domestic violence and other specified locations — school, work, or family member residences.
- Prohibits future acts of domestic violence — charges are escalated or punishment mandatory if violated.
- Forfeiture of firearms and weapons and forbiddance from possessing.
- Forbiddance of making contact in person, via relatives, via electronic communication, telephone, or in writing, or through a third party on the abuser’s behalf.
- Required payment of child support.
- Required reimbursement of the victim’s medical expenses incurred by injuries sustained during domestic violence event.
- Granting exclusive possession of shared residence to the victim.
- Giving of temporary custody of children involved in the relationship to the victim.
- Required domestic violence counseling.
- Mandatory Arrest
Because many victims of domestic violence fear reprisal if they reach out for help, law enforcement has a duty to protect victims by means of mandatory arrest if they suspect domestic violence due to signs of injury or indication that a victim has suffered bodily injury, whether or not the victim makes a complaint. In the event that injuries are not visible, if the officer sees signs that the victim has suffered physical injury or a witness states that the victim has been assaulted, the officer must make an arrest. In the event that both parties are injured, the arresting officer can make the decision as to who is more injured and who was the aggressor; or the officer can make a dual arrest.
State law requires that the victims of domestic violence will be notified when their accused abuser is released from police custody, heard in court, any change to charges or trial, and sentencing. The victim will be notified if the abuser becomes eligible for bail, applies for a reduction in bail, and when bail is met.
Address Confidentiality Program
Victims of domestic violence in New Jersey can obtain a legal substitute address to use as a physical address. Although it is typically a post office box, the address confidentiality program (ACP) can be used by public agencies and on first-class mail, rather than using the victim’s actual address.
Safety Planning Strategy
The safety strategy plan is designed to encourage the victims of domestic violence to plan for their safety in the event of an emergency. According to state domestic violence data, the most volatile time in an abusive situation is when the victim decides to leave the relationship for good. For this reason, the safety plan should be enacted first and victims should know where to go for help. Other elements of the safety plan include:
- Help in the planning phase including access to domestic violence resources, cell phones, and family law attorney.
- Tips on packing an emergency kit that includes essential items for victim and children including cash, medications, important documents, and domestic violence resource information.
- Advice on logging events and collecting evidence of abuse including photos and a journal of dates and times of events.
- Assistance with planning where to go — family, friend, or shelter.
- Guidance with preparing other family members — children and co-living relatives.
- Resources for counseling.
- Assistance with finding a family law attorney.
Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence in Morris County
New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 572-7233 (SAFE).
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 799-7233 (SAFE).
New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV) : (609) 584-8107. The NJCEDV maintains a listing of programs offering emergency services and transitional safe housing to victims of domestic violence.
Jersey Battered Women’s Services, Inc. (JBWS)
PO Box 1437 Morristown, NJ 07962
Emergency Shelter 24 Hr. Hotline: (973) 267-4763
TTY: (973) 285-9095
Office: (973) 455-1256
Fax: (973) 605-5898
Bart W. Lombardo, Esq. – 973-845-2294
For help getting the legal protection you deserve, Bart W. Lombardo, Esq. is a local family law attorney that has helped countless victims of domestic violence throughout his 20 years of experience.
Shelter Our Pets: 973-506-9696. For pet placement if you are entering a New Jersey domestic violence shelter.