Domestic violence is a serious issue in New Jersey. Recognizing that, the legislature passed the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. Under the law, victims of domestic abuse can seek civil court restraining orders to keep an individual from contacting or approaching them. Under current law, the parties to a restraining order must have an existing family, household, or dating relationship.
For example, if your neighbor accuses you of harassment, they can't currently request a restraining order without a family or domestic relationship. But now, a New Jersey legislator hopes to change that. Senator Jon Bramnick co-sponsored S-1517, a bi-partisan bill to expand restraining orders in the state.
Current New Jersey Restraining Order Law
Current New Jersey law limits domestic violence restraining orders to those in family relationships, including:
- Current or former spouses,
- Those living together,
- Current or former partners,
- Close family members such as parents, children, and siblings, or
- Those with a child together.
N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:25-17 - 25-35 (1991). The purpose of the law is to protect family members from domestic violence, and the applicant must show:
- That the parties to the order have a family, dating, or household relationship,
- That an act of domestic violence occurred, and
- There is an urgent need for a restraining order to prevent future acts of domestic violence.
Proposed Restraining Order Law
If passed, S-517 would expand restraining order laws and who can apply for a restraining order. The proposed bill will allow someone to apply for a restraining order if they are the victim of one of 16 specific crimes, including:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraining
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Stalking criminal coercion
The bill includes many crimes classified as “domestic violence” under current New Jersey law.
However, the new bill would expand restraining orders to anyone who is the victim of one of the above crimes. The bill authorizes “the issuance of restraining orders in situations for which the domestic violence statutes are inapplicable because the victim lacks a prior or existing spousal, household, or dating relationship with the offender.”
If the new bill passes, virtually any victim of one of the above crimes could request a restraining order, subjecting criminal defendants to a civil court action while defending themselves from criminal charges. This would greatly expand the number of temporary and final restraining orders sought in civil courts in New Jersey.
You Need an Experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you're facing a restraining order in New Jersey, you need a skilled lawyer by your side, protecting your rights. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the experienced legal team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping clients navigate criminal domestic violence charges and restraining orders for years. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 or contact them online to set up a consultation.