It's a sad fact that 70% of all violent crimes against women are committed by somebody they know, while 26% of non-fatal violence against women is committed by an intimate partner.

Domestic Violence cases (whether basic assault cases, or restraining order hearings) are some of the most heart-wrenching and difficult cases for victims, forcing them to confront their abusers in open court, while facing a barrage of questions and accusations from hostile witnesses, attorneys, and sometimes even the judge.

The State of New Jersey offers meaningful relief to victims of domestic violence in the form of Final Restraining Orders. A Final Restraining Order (FRO) is a legal document, signed by a Judge, that forbids an individual from contacting a victim or their family, showing up at their home or workplace, and prohibiting them from being within a certain proximity. Unlike Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs), an FRO is a permanent document and its legal effects last forever. If a Defendant violates the order and contacts a victim, he will automatically be arrested and face criminal charges regardless of whether he actually harmed or harassed the victim. These orders, and the strong legal relief they provide, are often necessary to prevent future acts of domestic violence from taking place.

That said, getting a restraining order can often be difficult.

The first step involves the filing of a Temporary Restraining Order. This is done either by going down to the local police department, or by visiting the County Superior Court and filing a domestic violence complaint. In either case, a judge or hearing officer will review the evidence and grant the TRO if a finding of actual domestic violence was made. Here, the victim's husband or boyfriend will be forced to temporarily vacate the victim's home or apartment. Here, it makes no difference who owns the home or apartment---the alleged perpetrator will be forced to leave. Furthermore, you will get temporary custody of the children and the perpetrator will be forced to pay temporary child support.

At this point, the court schedules a hearing for a later date, at which time the victim will make an argument to have the TRO converted into a permanent FRO (Final Restraining Order).

At the FRO Hearing, the judge will look at three (3) factors in order to determine whether a Final Restraining Order should be granted. These are:

(1) whether a predicate act of domestic violence occurred
(2) whether a prior history of domestic violence exists; and
(3) whether the victim is in reasonable fear for their safety and a restraining order is necessary to ensure their safety.

In determining whether a "predicate act of domestic violence" occurred, the judge will try to ascertain whether the act or acts of the alleged abuser constituted any of the following crimes under the New Jersey Criminal Code:

Harassment 2C:33-4
Assault 2C:12-1
Criminal Mischief 2C:17-3
Terroristic Threats 2C:12-3
Sexual Assault 2C:14-2
Lewdness 2C:14-4
Stalking 2C:12-10
Criminal Trespass 2C:18-3
Burglary 2C:18-2

If the judge finds that a predicate act of domestic violence did occur, he or she will also consider whether a previous history of domestic violence exists between the parties (including any prior threats, harassment, and physical violence). Here, it is important to provide the court with specific details and dates.

Finally, the judge will consider whether victim is in reasonable fear for their safety and a restraining order is necessary to ensure their safety.

If the court finds that a victim's case has met all of these requirements, it will grant the Final Restraining Order (FRO). That said, getting one is an often painful and emotional experience. Oftentimes, attorneys will try to pressure victims to drop their application for a restraining order, through offering certain monetary benefits, like higher-than-usual child support payments and the like, and promising to abide by "civil restraints," which look good on paper, but tend to have no teeth in the eyes of police or a court of law. These are very complex proceedings and it's very important to have access to skilled and qualified counsel.

If you, a friend or a loved one have been a victim of domestic violence and are in need of advice, information or help, then do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Robert J. Wittmann at 856-873-3730 for a free telephone or office consultation.



The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver.