In recent years, increases in incidents of domestic violence have received extensive attention from lawmakers, and there are now effective ways for victims to obtain meaningful legal protection from offenders. If you are a victim of domestic violence, and you need legal assistance in obtaining a restraining order or any other protective measure, Bergen County domestic violence lawyer Howard B. Leopold can help. He assists people throughout Northern New Jersey who need a family law attorney to assert their rights.Understanding Domestic Violence in New Jersey
Simply stated, domestic violence is a violent crime that is carried out against a current or former family member, a current or former member of the same household, or someone with whom the perpetrator is having or has had an intimate relationship. Since the choice of victim is based upon a close relationship, it is much more likely to persist, and it is often easier for perpetrators to commit crimes because they often know the victims’ habits or live in the same household.
Crimes that are covered by New Jersey’s domestic violence statute include:
- Assault, including sexual assault;
- Criminal sexual contact or lewdness (particularly with respect to children);
- Restraint or imprisonment;
- Threats of bodily harm;
- Stalking; and
- Burglary or criminal trespass.
If law enforcement is summoned at the time that an act of domestic violence occurs, they have the authority to arrest the perpetrator if the victim exhibits any signs of injury. But even if a specific incident is not reported to law enforcement, a victim may apply to the court for a protective order.
One thing that victims should know about seeking protective orders is that, to protect their own life, health, or well-being, they may apply for the order “ex parte”—that is, without the offending party being present or even being notified in advance. This is especially important when a victim is scared of retaliation or has been threatened with bodily harm if they try to get help from outside. The order may be granted by a judge based solely upon the applicant’s complaint or sworn testimony. In certain emergency situations, a judge may grant the order even if the applicant is unable to appear in court.
This initial protective order is called a temporary restraining order, or TRO. Among other provisions, the TRO may prohibit the defendant from returning to the place where the domestic violence occurred, such as the house or building where the victim lives or works. It may enable a judge to allow a search and seizure of any weapons, if their location is known, and it may prohibit the defendant from possessing a firearm or other weapon, among other measures. If it is granted, the TRO is then served on the defendant.
A TRO gives victims immediate protection, without requiring them to prepare a case or gather extensive evidence against the perpetrator. While the TRO is in place, both parties have an opportunity to prepare for a hearing at which both must be present. If the victim proves their case, a restraining order may be put in place that contains more extensive provisions than the TRO, including preventing the defendant from initiating any contact with the victim.
Once an order is in place, a defendant who violates the terms of a protective order is guilty of criminal contempt. Depending upon the severity of the violation, the defendant may be subject to criminal penalties of up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines.Contact a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Bergen County or Surrounding Areas
Domestic violence is a grave issue, and accusations should always be taken seriously. Victims of domestic violence need protection, and they need it quickly. If you need legal advice, assistance, or representation, you should contact Bergen County domestic violence attorney Howard B. Leopold. You can contact us online or call us at (201) 345-5907 to set up a free consultation to discuss your situation. Howard B. Leopold assists people who need a divorce attorney or guidance with other family law matters throughout Bergen, Essex, Passaic, and Hudson Counties, including in Hackensack, Englewood, Bergenfield, Cliffside Park, Dumont, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn, Fairview, Fort Lee, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Glen Rock, Hasbrouck Heights, Hillsdale, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, New Milford, North Arlington, Oakland, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, River Edge, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Tenafly, Wallington, Westwood, Wyckoff, Jersey City, Paterson, and Newark.