1. Is there a crime called domestic violence?
No. In New Jersey, there are 19 different crimes that, if committed by someone who falls into one category against someone who falls into another category, are known, collectively, as domestic violence. It is all part of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), and are a series of laws designed to protect victims. The PDVA also offers multiple civil protections as well.
2. What types of relief does the PDVA provide?
The most sought-after relief provided by the PDVA is a restraining order. A restraining order can either be temporary or final, and can only be issued by a judge. If issued, a restraining order can direct an offender to stay away from a victim, the victim’s family, and the victim’s friends. It can also direct an offender to stay away from the victim’s residence, place of employment, and other places frequented by the victim. The PDVA also allows for criminal charges, mandates when the police must make an arrest, and provides multiple options for protecting victims of domestic violence.
3. How do I get a Restraining Order?
Normally, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., you can apply for a restraining order in the Family Court Reception Office of the Superior Court. However, on weekends, holidays, or after 3:30 p.m., contact your local police department, or any other police department at which you feel comfortable. The officers will fill out the application with you and then contact the municipal judge to determine whether or not a restraining order should be granted. However, due to COVID-19 and limited Superior Court hours, all applications are being done through the police departments.
4. How do I know if I am entitled to a Restraining Order?
To qualify for a Restraining Order you must be a “victim” who has been subjected to an act of “domestic violence.” Under the law, “victim” means any person 18 years of age or older, who has been subjected to an act of domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or present or former household member. It also includes any person, regardless of age, who has been subjected to an act of domestic violence by a person with whom he/she has a child in common, or if one of the parties is pregnant by the other. It also includes a person with whom the defendant has had a dating relationship. “Domestic Violence” means any of the following acts committed against a “victim” as defined above: homicide; assault; terroristic threats; stalking; kidnapping; criminal restraint; false imprisonment; sexual assault; criminal sexual contact; lewdness; criminal mischief; burglary; criminal trespass; harassment; criminal coercion; robbery; contempt of a restraining order; or any other crime involving the risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the PDVA.