Domestic Violence

"Domestic Violence is a crime which affects people of every race, religion, sex, and financial status. Domestic violence can destroy any family or relationship it touches, unless it is recognized, treated and stopped!"

Domestic violence can take many forms--beatings, sexual assault, molestation, and even murder. Specific offenses covered include assault of any kind, threatening and intimidating, kidnap or false imprisonment, and trespass. The law also protects family members against fighting, unreasonable noise, abusive language and reckless use of a weapon or dangerous instrument. Because of the family relationship, victims of domestic violence usually feel afraid, ashamed, and embarrassed. Many are convinced that they did something to deserve the abusive treatment and most feel powerless to change the situation or escape from it. Everyone in a family affected by domestic violence wants to believe that each incident of violence will be the last. Unfortunately, statistics show that the violence tends to become more frequent and more severe with each occurrence. It is important to remember domestic violence is a crime and there is no need to suffer in silence. Help is available for both the victim and the offender. There are provisions in the domestic violence law which permit police officers to arrest the offender based on evidence that an offense has occurred. The officer does not have to witness the offense. This law also provides that an offender may be arrested even if the victim is unwilling to press charges. These are important factors in protecting the victims from repeated violence and helps to break the cycle of abuse.

Domestic violence means the occurrence of one or more of the following criminal offenses upon a person protected under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act: 

Homicide
N.J.S. 2C:11-1

Assault
N.J.S. 2C:12-1
Terroristic threats
N.J.S. 2C:12-3
Kidnapping
N.J.S. 2C:13-1 
Criminal restraint
N.J.S. 2C:13-2
False imprisonment
N.J.S. 2C:13-3
Sexual assault
N.J.S. 2C:14-2

Criminal sexual contact
N.J.S. 2C:14-3

Lewdness
N.J.S. 2C:14-4
Criminal mischief
N.J.S. 2C:17-3
Burglary
N.J.S. 2C:18-2
Criminal trespass
N.J.S. 2C:18-3
Harassment
N.J.S. 2C:33-4
Stalking
N.J.S. 2C:12-10
Criminal coercion
N.J.S. 2C:13-5

Robbery
N.J.S. 2C:15-1

Contempt of Domestic violence order
N.J.S. 2C:29-9
Cyber-harassment
N.J.S. 2C:33-4.1
   


Harassment is defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4 as follows:

...a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, with purpose to harass another, he:

  1. Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse  language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
  2. Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
  3. Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.

A victim of domestic violence is a person protected by the Domestic Violence Act (including abuse and neglect of the elderly and disabled) and includes any person:

  1. who is 18 years of age or older, or
  2. who is an emancipated minor, and who has been subjected to domestic violence by:
    1. spouse
    2. former spouse
    3. any other person who is a present or former household member, OR
  3. who regardless of age, has been subjected to domestic violence by a person:
    1. with whom the victim has had a child in common, or
    2. with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.
  4. who, regardless of age, has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.
    1. a victim may be below the age of 18.
    2. a domestic violence assailant must be over the age of 18 or emancipated at the time of the offense.

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act does not define a victim of domestic violence by age, physical or psychological condition or sex.

An unemancipated minor who commits an act of domestic violence may not be prosecuted as a domestic violence defendant but can be prosecuted under the juvenile delinquency laws. The entry of pre- or post-dispositional restraints can also be considered.

A minor is considered emancipated from his or her parents when the minor:

  1. has been married
  2. has entered military service
  3. has a child or is pregnant; or
  4. has been previously declared by the court or an administrative agency to be emancipated.
  • If you are being beaten or anticipate an attack, leave the scene immediately. Go to a neighbor, friend, or relative for temporary shelter and notify the police.

  • Seek medical attention immediately if you are seriously injured.  Even if your injuries are minor, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries may not be obvious to you.  Tell the doctor exactly how the injuries happened and make sure he or she notes this in your records.

  • You may want to talk to someone who can advise you on the availability of family shelters or give you emotional support.  These agencies can put you in touch with the help you need

  • Accept the fact that you can't solve the problem by fighting back or trying harder to be perfect.  Instead, consider turning to the protection that is rightfully yours by law.

When a police officer arrives, describe what happened.  Tell the officer about any injuries such as bruises, cuts, redness, or tender areas.  Also let the officer know if anyone else witnessed the incident and can support your statement.  The officer will decide if there is enough evidence to make an arrest.

If arrested, the offender will be taken away and secured until appearing before a Judge who will determine the terms and conditions of the release.

Once an offense is referred to the courts for action, you, the victim, will be kept informed of all aspects of the proceedings according to the victims' rights law.  Victims of crime are encouraged to participate in the judicial process.

The penalties for an offender found guilty of domestic violence related crime vary greatly.  The court may be able to order the offender into a counseling program to begin breaking the cycle of violence.

 Court of Jurisdiction:

Temporary Restraining Order:

In New Jersey, a Temporary Restraining Order may be entered against a defendant who has been alleged to be a batterer, in the following courts:

Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part

A victim may approach the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, during regular court hours (8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.) to seek a Temporary Restraining Order. Temporary Restraining Orders may be granted by either a Judge of the Superior Court, Family Part or a Domestic Violence Hearing Officer.

Municipal Court

After 3:30 p.m. and on weekends and other times when the Superior Courts are closed, a victim contacts local law enforcement who assists the victim in obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order from a Municipal Court Judge.

Final Restraining Order:

Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part (Only)

A hearing must be scheduled before a Judge of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, within 10 days after a Temporary Restraining Order has been entered. Only a Judge of the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, may grant a Final Restraining Order.

The New Jersey Domestic Violence Central Registry is now fully operational statewide.  The registry makes available to all law enforcement officers and Superior Court, Family Part personnel, up-to-date information on all restraining orders entered into the Family Automated Case Tracking System (FACTS).  This registry serves as a valuable database for law enforcement to facilitate enforcement of Temporary and Final Restraining Orders, and provides protection to all victims as they move between municipalities and counties within the state.  The Registry is also helpful in providing firearms licensing information to law enforcement personnel for screening of individuals who apply for firearms licensing.  The Registry was made possible through funding from the Federal STOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and through inter-agency cooperation among the Judiciary, the Attorney General's Office, the New Jersey State Police, County Prosecutors, local law enforcement and others.    

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act, a victim who has a restraining order from her/his home state and flees to another state to seek safety from further abuse, may seek enforcement of the existing restraining order in the new state. The new state must provide full faith and credit to any existing restraining order or order of protection. The Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the State Domestic Violence Working Group and members of its Full Faith and Credit Subcommittee, have been working diligently to ensure that a victim of domestic violence receives the protection afforded to that victim by all New Jersey Courts. Police in New Jersey are trained to recognize as valid, all out-of-state restraining orders, when a victim calls upon them. The Supreme Court's State Domestic Violence Working Group continues to meet to define and promulgate a system to validate and register or domesticate a foreign order. It is anticipated that New Jersey will have a statewide protocol established in the near future.

As part of this initiative, the Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts, has been working closely with the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, Wilmington, Delaware, to organize a Full Faith & Credit Conference between six states: Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia and New Jersey. 

If you have a Domestic Violence Restraining Order or Order of Protection from another State or U.S. Territory and you now live in New Jersey or are moving to New Jersey, you have choices regarding your existing Restraining Order:

Do nothing with the Order. New Jersey Courts and Police are instructed to enforce any Order that appears to be valid.

- OR -

You can have your out-of-state order recognized by the New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, as a valid order or you may choose to obtain a New Jersey Restraining Order.

 

Please contact the Superior Court, Family Part, or the Domestic Violence Program
in the county where you reside or plan to reside for additional information and assistance. The telephone numbers are as follows:

Counties

N.J. Family Courts

Domestic Violence Programs

Atlantic: 609-345-6700 (Ext. 3446) 609-646-6767 (24 hr. hotline)
1-800-286-4184 (Toll-free)
Bergen: 201-646-2750 201-944-9600 (24 hr. hotline)
201-487-8484 (24 hr. hotline)
Burlington: 609-518-2691 609-871-7551 (24 hr. hotline)
Camden: 856-225-7374 856-227-1234 (24 hr. hotline)
Cape May: 609-463-6611 609-522-6489 (24 hr. hotline)
1-877-294-2272 (Toll-free)

Cumberland:

856-453-4540 856-691-3713 (24 hr. hotline)
1-800-286-4353 (Toll-free)
Essex: 973-693-6667 973-484-4446 (24 hr. hotline)
973-759-2154 (24 hr. hotline)
973-765-9050 (24 hr. hotline)
Gloucester: 856-853-3649 856-881-3335 (24 hr. hotline)
Hudson: 201-795-6779 201-333-5700 (24 hr. hotline)
Hunterdon: 908-788-1149 908-788-4044 (24 hr. hotline)
1-888-988-4033 (Toll-free)
Mercer: 609-989-6742 609-394-9000 (24 hr. hotline)
1-800-572-SAFE (State hotline)
Middlesex: 732-981-3295 732-249-4504 (24 hr. hotline)
Monmouth: 732-431-7498 732-264-4111 (24 hr. hotline)
1-888-The-WCMC [1-888-843-9262](Toll-free)
Morris: 973-829-8072 973-267-4763 (24 hr. hotline)
Ocean: 732-929-2042 732-244-8259 (24 hr. hotline)
1-800-246-8910 (Toll-free)
Passaic: 973-247-8459 973-881-1450 (24 hr. hotline)
Salem: 856-935-7510 (Ext. 8262) 856-935-6655 (24 hr. hotline)
1-888-632-9511 (Toll-free)
Somerset: 908-231-7048 908-685-1122 (24 hr. hotline)
Sussex: 973-579-0630 973-875-1211 (24 hr. hotline)
Union: 908-659-3355 908-355-4357 (24 hr. hotline)
Warren: 908-475-6159 908-475-8408 (24 hr. hotline)