Restraining Orders and SASPA
In New Jersey, an alleged victim of a sexual assault can seek a protective order from a local superior court under the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act (SASPA). SASPA allows alleged victims to seek these orders without the need for a criminal complaint or prosecution. Since a protective order under SASPA is not criminal, it operates under the burden of proof that is found in civil litigation, proof by a preponderance of the evidence. For a complainant to be granted a restraining order pursuant to SASPA, he or she must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed a sexual assault against the complainant and that protection of the court is necessary.
The Original Standard Under SASPA
When intoxication is an issue for either the alleged aggressor or victim, questions arise about who carries the burden of proof to demonstrate whether appropriate consent was given and/or whether the alleged aggressor was too intoxicated to form the intent to carry out a sexual assault. Under SASPA, the original standard in New Jersey placed this burden on the alleged victim. In the past, courts regularly required complainants to prove that consent was not given and that the alleged aggressor was not too intoxicated to commit the assault. The Case of C.R. v. M.T. made its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court to decide who carries the burden of proof when intoxication is involved.
The New Standard Under SASPA
In a unanimous decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the existing standard of who bears the burden of proof when intoxication is involved. Complainants seeking a restraining order under SASPA no longer have to prove whether consent was given nor prove whether the alleged aggressor was too intoxicated to form a criminal intent. This decision puts defendants on notice that they will have to prove that consent to engage in sexual activity was freely and affirmatively given if they are facing a restraining order pursuant to SASPA. Preparing an effective defense is critical towards avoiding the consequences of a restraining order. Any statements made during a restraining order hearing can also be used in a criminal prosecution. With so much on the line, it is important to have an experienced attorney defending you. If you have legal questions, then call us at the Lento Law Firm today!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are facing a restraining order based on a sexual assault allegation, then it is important to speak to an attorney immediately. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped countless people across New Jersey fight their cases. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team are the right choice to help you.