Domestic abuse cases are often some of the most heart-wrenching and complicated cases to handle as a person and as an attorney. Unfortunately, there are many bona fide cases of domestic abuse in New Jersey, and those victims deserve to be protected from further abuse. However, on the other side, there are many cases of reported domestic abuse and violence that are wholly unfounded and are filed by a spouse or significant other in an effort to gain an advantage in child custody or divorce proceedings.
At the Law Firm of John J. Zarych, we represent both those who are the victims of domestic abuse and violence and those who have been falsely accused of domestic abuse. We understand that these cases are some of the most personal cases and can take an immense toll on you as a person. That is why our team of dedicated and experienced lawyers are committed to providing the best possible representation to our clients and are ready to help you through these difficult times. To schedule a no-cost and confidential initial case evaluation, call (609) 616-4956 today or contact us online.
How is “Domestic Violence” Defined in Cape May County?
Under the 1991 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), there are eight criminal offenses that when committed against a person who is protected under the PDVA will serve as a basis for domestic violence. The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act provides for eighteen different criminal activities which can serve as the basis for a person to file a domestic violence complaint.
- terroristic threats,
- criminal restraint,
- false imprisonment,
- criminal sexual contact,
- criminal mischief,
- criminal trespass,
- criminal coercion,
- contempt of a domestic violence order
In addition, any crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury may be grounds for the court to find there is sufficient evidence of domestic violence. Some of the most common basis for domestic violence charges are those based on assault either simple or aggravated. A person can be found guilty of simple assault when they attempt to cause, reckless cause, or knowingly cause bodily injury to another person. Aggravated assault is more serious, and a person can be found guilty of aggravated assault when they attempt to cause, recklessly cause, or purposefully cause serious bodily injury to another person, which manifests an extreme indifference to the value of human life. In addition, a person can be found guilty of aggravated assault when they cause or purposefully cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
Asserting a Cape May Domestic Violence Claim
Domestic abuse encompasses more than just physical abuse but also entails emotional, psychological, and even economic abuse. However, the point of the abuse statute and the protections that accompany it is that if a person feels threatened or are experiencing abuse they can file a domestic violence complaint. Unfortunately, the police are often involved in these matters, and because of provisions in the code must arrest and sign a criminal complaint against a person if:
- The victim exhibits signs of injury caused by an act of domestic violence
- There is probable cause to believe that the terms of a no-contact court order has been violated
- Where there is a warrant in effect.
One of the most effective tools a person has is to file a temporary restraining order, with either Superior Court Judge or with a Municipal Court Judge through the police department. If the judge believes that you are the victim of domestic violence and are in need of protection, you will receive a temporary restraining order, which can include any of the following restrictions The TRO will set forth the charge and all restrictions that have been temporarily placed upon you until the final hearing. These restrictions can include any or all of the following:
- Prohibiting you from returning to your home;
- Barring you from the residence(s) of plaintiff, place(s) of employment of plaintiff, or specific family members of the plaintiff;
- Prohibiting you from having any oral, written, personal, electronic, or another form of contact or communication with Plaintiff.
- Prohibiting you from making or causing anyone else to make harassing communications to Plaintiff
- Requiring you to pay emergent monetary relief such as support for plaintiff and dependent(s), medical coverage for plaintiff and dependents; rent Mortgage payments and other carrying charges on the shared home;
- You may be required to participate in a batterers intervention program or submit to a Psychiatric evaluation or risk assessment
- Prohibiting you from possessing any and all firearms or other weapons. If you already own or possess such firearms/weapons, you must immediately surrender them along with any permits, applications or ID cards. Failure to do so may result in your arrest and incarceration. A self-executing search warrant order may be issued upon execution of a TRO if weapons are suspected.
- You may also be prohibited from any parenting time/visitation with your children until further order. Even if a full prohibition is not entered, supervision may be required.
Within 10 days, the person you filed against will be entitled to a hearing in the family court, and at that hearing, a family court judge on the Superior will listen to the testimony of the parties and any witnesses and will determine whether to dismiss the temporary restraining order or to issue a final restraining order.
Defenses to a Domestic Violence Claim in Cape May, NJ
Sadly, some spouses and significant others will falsely file a domestic violence complaint because having a pending domestic violence complaint can negatively affect one party’s standing in a divorce or child custody hearing. Any allegation of domestic violence is very serious and you should not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately.
As evidence that some people falsely file reports, the New Jersey Supreme Court recognized in the case of State v. Hoffman that some litigants attempt to use the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act as a “sword” rather than a shield” and will attempt to apply the act against people who have not committed domestic violence. This behavior “diminishes the suffering of true victims of domestic violence and misuses the legislative vehicle which was developed to protect them” according to the case of Peranio v. Peranio. Those who have been falsely accused of domestic violence face potentially severe legal consequences as well as endure emotional consequences.
An attorney can help defend against a false accusation of domestic violence by immediately appealing a temporary restraining order, and prepare for a final hearing. At the final hearing an attorney can defend you on the grounds that there was no abuse and therefore a restraining order is wholly unnecessary.
Contact a Knowledgeable Cape May Domestic Violence Attorney for a Free Case Review
Whether you are in danger from an abusive spouse or a vengeful partner has requested a restraining order against you, it is important to act quickly to protect yourself. To schedule a no-cost and confidential initial case evaluation with our Cape May criminal defense lawyer, call (609) 616-4956 today or contact us online.