In New Jersey, a Temporary Restraining Order issued under the Domestic Violence Act, can be issued at the request of the protected party when there is evidence presented to the Court to establish the existence of a ‘domestic relationship’ that did or does still exist, an allegation of one or more of the prohibited criminal acts, and a reason to believe that without the protections of the RO, that future acts of domestic violence will occur.
A ‘domestic relationship’ includes dating relationships, couples who are a ‘couple’, lovers, a father and mother of a child; sibling vs. sibling; parent and child; and other types of relationships establishing a shared family-type connection between the parties. It does not matter if the relationship has self-destructed, or how long ago the interconnection ended, or whether one wants it to stop and the other wants it to continue. The first issue is that there was, at some time prior to the incident that led to the application for the Order, this type of personal association.
The second issue is whether there is an allegation of at least one of the criminal acts prohibited by the Domestic Violence Act. As an example: some times arguments get out-of hand. Things get said, sometimes with swear words or other offensive language or hand signals used by one of the parties. Depending on the circumstances, that could be deemed sufficient, without more, to establish ‘harassment’ under the NJ statute. As another example, sometimes things get physical, and one person might say, ‘Go ahead, hit me’, and when the other person follows through and hits them, they are committing simple assault. It does not matter that the physical contact occurred because one person said ‘hit me’, as a person cannot legally consent to being assaulted. Alternatively any allegation pertaining to any of the other prohibited acts can similarly be used to establish the prohibited conduct.
The last issue looks at whether there is a ‘reason to believe’ that without the protections of the Order, that future acts of domestic violence will occur. This issue is often supported by the plaintiff testifying about past acts of similar or related conduct by the defendant. Past arguments, physical actions taken against the plaintiff, text messages, emails, testimony by other witnesses, photographs, and numerous other types of evidence can be used to illustrate the fact that the protected party is ‘in fear’ and that it would be reasonable for the Court to issue a Final Restraining Order, which in NJ will last forever, not just for a finite period of time.
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