One of the biggest questions that New Jersey restraining order requests present is what verbal statements, threats, or abuse are enough to get a restraining order when no actual violence has yet occurred. New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and New Jersey's Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act do not list verbal or emotional abuse as grounds for restraining orders. That omission suggests that persons seeking a restraining order for verbal or emotional abuse have an uphill battle. Yet the acts do include several qualifying acts that could include verbal or emotional abuse, depending on the particular facts and circumstances.
Restraining Orders for Violent Acts
New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and New Jersey's Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act focus first on authorizing restraining orders when the defendant has committed some form of violent act against the protected person. Among the nineteen categories of acts for which it authorizes restraining orders, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act includes assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment or criminal restraint, all crimes of violence. Similarly, the Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act authorizes restraining orders based on sexual assaults, again an act of criminal violence. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act also authorizes restraining orders based on lewdness, stalking, and criminal restraint, which are other criminal or harmful acts creating violence risks.
Restraining Orders for Harassment and Threats
Although the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act first focuses on violent acts among its nineteen categories of acts for which it authorizes restraining orders, the law also includes stalking, lewdness, harassment, and terroristic threats as grounds. Any one of these categories or a combination of these categories can qualify for restraining order protection. Whether verbally abusive statements or emotionally abusive acts qualify for restraint depends on whether those statements or acts qualify as stalking, lewdness, harassment, or terroristic threats. Verbal abuse that, for instance, threatens the protected person with death would surely qualify as a terror-inducing threat. But verbal abuse that carries no terror-striking threat would not qualify for a restraining order under that category. Similarly, if the defendant says something verbally abusive once, or does something emotionally abusive once, a restraining order may not be available. But if the defendant repeats abusive statements and conduct repeatedly in a wearying pattern that the court could find to be harassment, then the matter could potentially qualify for restraint. And if the emotional abuse includes lewdness or stalking, the court will have another basis for restraint. Verbal or emotional abuse alone, without taint of threat, harassment, lewdness, or stalking, should not warrant restraint. But these cases can leave a gray area for interpretation and advocacy. Be cautious about claims of verbal and emotional abuse and get the premier attorney representation you need.
New Jersey Restraining Order Defense Attorney
If you face a request for a restraining order based on alleged verbal or emotional abuse, or the court has already issued an ex parte temporary restraining order around alleged verbal or emotional abuse, you need skilled and experienced defense attorney representation. Retain New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for your aggressive and effective defense of restraining order requests. Call 888-535-3686 for a consultation now or use the online service.