What Does Predicate Act of Violence Mean in New Jersey?

In order to obtain a temporary restraining order or final restraining order, a person must prove certain grounds. Of these grounds is the fact that a defendant committed a "predicate act of violence." The person asking for the order is required to prove this "predicate act of violence," or he or she will not be granted the temporary or final protection order.

If you face the possibility of a temporary or final protection order against you in New Jersey, you need an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to defend your case and protect your constitutional rights. Do not assume that there is no hope, you deserve to have your rights protected by an experienced lawyer.

New Jersey Temporary & Final Restraining Order Defense Attorney

With many years of experience working in different roles in the New Jersey justice system, Joseph Lento is a uniquely qualified New Jersey criminal defense attorney with a comprehensive knowledge of how the criminal justice system works, from start to finish.

If you face the imposition of a temporary or final protection order against you in New Jersey and need a comprehensive, customized defense, contact the attorneys at the Lento Law Firm. Joseph Lento built his practice on the ideals of customer service and justice and he will fight for your rights and freedom. Call (215) 535-5353 today to schedule your free consultation and discover what Joseph Lento can do to clear your name.

Purpose of Protection Orders in New Jersey

The purpose of a temporary or final protection order in New Jersey is to prevent domestic violence. Under the law, these orders are designed to protect:

  • A current or former spouse, or other current or former member of a household
  • A current of former individual who someone has had a romantic or dating relationship with
  • Someone they have had a child with or will soon have (if pregnant)

A court can require that the defendant refrains from contacting the victim, the victim's friends, family, co-workers and more. The court can also require that the defendant attend and complete professional counseling.

Predicate Act of Violence: What is it?

In order for a judge to issue a temporary restraining order in the state of New Jersey, the court is required to have jurisdiction to do so, and the request for an order must comply with the rest of New Jersey law. 

The first element that the person asking for the protection order must prove is that a predicate act of domestic violence has occurred. The second element is a prior history of domestic violence, and the third element is that the restraining order is necessary to protect the well being and safety of the victim.

Predicate acts of domestic violence in New Jersey include the following offenses:

  • Harassment
  • Assault
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Stalking
  • Sexual Assault
  • Homicide
  • Criminal Restraint
  • Kidnapping
  • False Imprisonment
  • Criminal Sexual Contact
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Burglary
  • Lewdness
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Robbery
  • Criminal Coercion
  • Contempt of a domestic violence order that constitutes a crime or disorderly persons offense
  • Cyber harassment
  • Any other type of crime that involves the risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person who is protected under the "Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991"

A person moving for a temporary or final protection order can allege one or multiple offenses as the predicate act of domestic violence. Some of the more common predicate offenses are described in more detail below.


Harassment requires intent to harass another person. This includes contact at inconvenient hours, use of profane language, excessive contact by email, regular mail, phone calls, texting, or any other way. The act may also be physical, verbal, or simply done by body language in some cases.


Assault occurs through direct abuse or contact with a victim. The harm need not be extreme and can be with or without a deadly weapon. A threat to harm may also be considered an assault in these cases.

Terroristic Threats

A person who threatens to commit any violent crime, along with the purpose to terrorize another is guilty of a terroristic threat. A threat to kill you or someone else you care about could be considered a terroristic threat sufficient to meet the predicate act necessary for a protection order.

Criminal Restraint

If an abuser keeps another person in place, and that puts that person at risk of serious bodily injury, or keeps a person and does not allow them to leave may be guilty of criminal restraint. This requires actual or the risk of serious bodily injury.

False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is different from criminal restraint, in that it does not require the risk of serious bodily injury. While a less serious offense than criminal restraint, it serves an equally powerful justification for a court to order a temporary or final restraining order in New Jersey.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault occurs when another person uses force or coercion to sexually penetrate another person. Any time a victim does not give freely given consent, the sexual activity may be considered sexual assault.


Stalking occurs when, more than once, a person:

  • stares at another for a long time
  • follows someone (or sends someone else to follow that person)
  • interferes with the belonging of another person
  • harasses another person
  • sends threats to another person

The purpose of these actions must be to make the other person scared or uncomfortable, or know that it was likely to do so.


Lewdness occurs when a person does something considered to be "flagrantly lewd and offensive" in front of that person who would not want to see it. This typically occurs when a person "flashes" their genitals to a person who does not consent to it.

Consult a New Jersey Temporary & Permanent Restraining Order Attorney

If you or someone you care about faces the imposition of a temporary or final restraining order in New Jersey, an experienced New Jersey defense attorney can fight for your rights. Joseph D. Lento has the years of experience necessary to protect your rights. He will analyze your case and tailor a defense to fit your specific needs.

Call (888) 535-3686 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation of your case.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today


When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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