Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence complaints are at an all-time high throughout New Jersey. Essex and Hudson counties are by no means the exception. For some families, the coronavirus creates more than its share of fears. Unfortunately, the need for restraining orders literally hits home.
Police departments throughout the state report that social distancing and stay at home orders have increased domestic violence complaints. Even good marriages face problems unrelated to any type of disease. Too much time together represents just one part of the issue. Additionally, the lack of money contributes to uneasiness. School-aged children miss their friends and add to the unrest.
In some cases, the risk of domestic violence pre-existed before the rise of the pandemic. However, they now find themselves literally confined to home with their abuser. The news tells many stories that confirm how quarantining impacts domestic violence.
Last week, reports that an East Hanover man shot and killed his wife brought the picture local. According to news coverage, hours before, the couple’s daughter called authorities to report that her parents were involved in a domestic dispute with a gun. Obviously, homicide is the most extreme when it comes to domestic violence.
Domestic Violence: The Predicate Acts
Under New Jersey law, the courts consider nineteen separate acts as reasons that might call for a restraining order. Notably, each of those listed below corresponds to a criminal offense:
(1) Homicide N.J.S.2C:11-1 et seq.
(2) Assault N.J.S.2C:12-1
(3) Terroristic threats N.J.S.2C:12-3
(4) Kidnapping N.J.S.2C:13-1
(5) Criminal restraint N.J.S.2C:13-2
(6) False imprisonment N.J.S.2C:13-3
(7) Sexual assault N.J.S.2C:14-2
(8) Criminal sexual contact N.J.S.2C:14-3
(9) Lewdness N.J.S.2C:14-4
(10) Criminal mischief N.J.S.2C:17-3
(11) Burglary N.J.S.2C:18-2
(12) Criminal trespass N.J.S.2C:18-3
(13) Harassment N.J.S.2C:33-4
(14) Stalking P.L.1992, c. 209 ( C.2C:12-10 )
(15) Criminal coercion N.J.S.2C:13-5
(16) Robbery N.J.S.2C:15-1
(17) Contempt of a domestic violence order pursuant to subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9 that constitutes a crime or disorderly persons offense
(18) Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c. 261 ( C.2C:25-17 et al.)
(19) Cyber-harassment P.L.2013, c. 272 ( C.2C:33-4.1 )
Restraining Orders: Qualifying Relationships
Notably, the law does not just limit domestic violence claims to married couples. If you find yourself experiencing a predicate act of domestic violence involving an adult child, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or another household member, you may seek an order of protection.
In the meantime, it goes without saying – but sometimes gets overlooked. Women can be domestic violence abusers and not just victims. Additionally, male victims of domestic violence often shy away from admitting their abuse. However, they are equally entitled to protective orders.
If you are afraid for your safety, your first step should be to call the local police department for assistance. Tempers and emotions flare for many reasons. Do not put yourself at risk.
Local authorities help domestic victim abusers obtain temporary restraining orders (TROs) from the local municipal court. Prior to the pandemic, requests for protection orders went to the superior court during business hours. Now, municipal judges consider and execute the TROs.
If you are named in a temporary restraining order, you will ultimately need to go before a superior court judge. The court reviews the proofs in the matter and determines whether to sign a final restraining order (FRO). Until the judge makes that decision, the temporary restraining order holds the same weight.
According to New Jersey law, the hearing for the final restraining order should occur within ten days of the filing of the complaint. With the courts closed, hearings are delay. However, the courts are attempting to conduct virtual sessions using technology.
We Can Help with Your Final Restraining Order Hearing
At the Law Offices of Sam Stoia, we can help you with your final restraining order hearing. Whether you are the victim or accused of abuse, you need the advice of an experienced family law attorney. There is no charge for our initial one-hour consultation. Contact us to learn more.