Domestic violence, also sometimes referred to as “intimate partner violence,” is any act of violence between domestic or intimate partners, as outlined by the 1991 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was created to protect victims of domestic violence by clearly describing which acts are considered domestic violence, which victims fall under the category of domestic violence victims, and protocol for filing a domestic violence charge as well as obtaining a restraining order against a domestic violence offender.

The acts listed in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are the following:

assault of the victim

homocide of the victim

threats of terroristic activity against the victim

kidnapping of the victim

imprisonment of the victim

physical restraint of the victim against his or her will

sexual assault of the victim

stalking the victim

harassment, through electronic or other means, of the victim

criminal trespassing on the victim’s property

lewdness toward the victim

burglary of the victim’s property

If any of the above acts are committed against a person with whom the offender had a sexual or otherwise significant relationship, it is domestic violence. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act defines victims of domestic violence as the following:

Any person who is eighteen years old or an emancipated minor and subjected to the previously stated acts by a spouse, former spouse or other household member.

Any person, regardless of age, who suffers the above acts at the hand of a person with whom he or she has or is expecting a child

Any person, regardless of age, who has or had a sexual or otherwise romantic relationship with his or her attacker if the attacker is over the age of eighteen or an emancipated minor.

If the offender in a domestic violence case is an unemancipated minor, he or she is subject to juvenile delinquency laws. He or she may not be prosecuted as an adult domestic violence offender.

Acts of domestic violence are not separate charges from the previously listed crimes. Rather, a domestic violence charge is added to charges for those crimes if the victim fits the categories listed by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. All penalties for domestic violence crimes are the same penalties for these crimes if they were not committed against a domestic partner. For example, a second degree aggravated assault of one’s spouse would carry the same penalty of five to ten years in jail and fines of up to $150,000 that the aggravated assault of any other person would carry. The laws set forth in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are there to give victims the security of immediate response and arrest of their abusers and firm grounds for obtaining a restraining order against him or her.

To obtain a restraining order against an abusive partner, the victim must file for it with the county in which he or she resides. A restraining order prohibits the defendant from contacting the person who filed for the restraining order. A judge may grant a temporary restraining order if the applicant appears to be at risk for domestic violence. If domestic violence has been proven, the judge may grant a final restraining order. The difference between these two restraining orders is that a temporary restraining order expires after a set amount of time, and a final restraining order requires that the person against whom it is filed never contact the applicant again, unless the restraining order is rescinded by a judge.

When an act of domestic violence is reported to police, the police are required to respond. If there is any evidence of physical abuse at the scene, they are required to arrest the alleged offender. While law enforcement is at the scene of a domestic violence call, they are also required to notify the victim of his or her rights in a domestic violence situation and offer help.

If you are involved with a domestic violence lawsuit and need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you, call Ron Bar-Nadav at 201-525-1555. His knowledge of New Jersey criminal law can help you build and win your case.