New Jersey Domestic Violence

According to the New Jersey Annual Domestic Violence Report for 2011, there were more than 70,000 domestic violence offenses reported to the police that year, a five percent decrease from the previous year.However, murders increased by five percent.

Arrests were made in 31 percent of the reported domestic violence cases.

Children were present or involved in 31 percent of domestic violence cases reported.

Wives were the victims in 18 percent of cases, and ex-wives in three percent.Women and girls were the victims in 76 percent of offenses.

Alcohol and/or drugs were involved in 26 percent of cases.

New Jersey law defines domestic violence as one or more of the following acts committed against a person protected under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1990:

  • Homicide
  • Assault
  • Terroristic threats
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal restraint
  • False imprisonment
  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual assault
  • Lewdness
  • Criminal mischief
  • Burglary
  • Criminal trespass
  • Harassment
  • Stalking

A “Victim of Domestic Violence” is defined as a person:

  • Who is 18 or under, or
  • Who is an emancipated minor and who has been subjected to domestic violence by a
    • Spouse,
    • Former spouse, or
    • A present or former household member, or
  • Who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person
    • With whom the victim has a child in common, or
    • With whom the victim anticipates having a child, if one of the parties is pregnant, or
  • Who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom he or she has had a dating relationship.

According to the publication, Legal Aspects of Domestic Violence by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, a Massachusetts study showed that of females between ages 15 and 19 who were murdered, 30 percent were killed by boyfriends and ex-boyfriends.This is the same percentage as for adult women murdered by husbands, boyfriends, or ex-husbands or boyfriends.

In many cases, adult victims of domestic violence first experienced domestic violence when they were still teens.

A police officer must arrest and take into custody a person suspected of committing domestic violence and must sign the complaint against that person if:

  • The victim shows any signs of injury caused by domestic violence,
  • There is probable cause to believe that the suspect has violated a “no-contact” court order,
  • A warrant is in effect against the suspect, or
  • There is probable cause to believe that a weapon has been involved in the commission of an act of domestic violence.

When a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, the officer must advise the victim of:

  • his or her right to seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the suspect, and
  • his or her right to file a criminal complaint against the suspect.

If you or your children have been the victims of domestic violence, including physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, you can seek a TRO even without calling the police.

If your spouse or former spouse is abusive, you may also be able to prevent him or her from having custody of your children.You may also be able to prevent or limit visitation or parenting time with an abusive former spouse.

If you have questions about domestic violence laws in New Jersey, please contact our office to arrange an appointment with an experienced Bergen County family law attorney at Chase & Chase.