UNDERSTANDING THE NEW JERSEY PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT(“DV LAW”)
To be legally protected against domestic violence under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, you must meet three conditions.
Condition #1: Is your relationship one that is covered by the DV Law?
YES, if the ABUSER is 18 years old or older (or emancipated*)AND any of the following apply:
- YOU are 18 years of age or older (or emancipated*) and the abuser is any other person who is a present household member or was at any time a household member; OR
- YOU are any age and the abuser is your present or former spouse; OR
- YOU are any age and an abuser is a person with whom you have a child in common or with whom you are expecting a baby; OR
- YOU are any age and the abuser is 18, is a person with whom you have had a dating relationship (including same-sex relationships); OR
- YOU are an elderly or disabled person and the abuser is a spouse, dating or live-in partner, or any other household member, including a caregiver.
*A person is emancipated when declared so by the Court, has joined the military service, has married, has become a parent, or is pregnant.
Condition #2: Have any of the following acts been committed against you by the abuser?
Under the DV Law, you are a victim of domestic violence if, if your relationship, you have experienced any of the following acts of abuse. It is important to review and understand the definitions of each act that may pertain to your experience.
- Homicide – Purposely, knowingly or recklessly causing or attempting to cause your death.
- Assault – Any physical attack that causes or attempts to cause you bodily injury or fear of harm, including beating (with or without a weapon), punching, slapping, kicking, strangling/choking, or hair pulling.
- Terroristic Threats – Threatening to commit a crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize you; threatening to kill you or someone else that reasonably puts you in fear of imminent death.
- Kidnapping – Transporting you or taking you against your will to someplace where you did not want to go, or confining you for a substantial period of time for ransom, reward or as a hostage.
- False Imprisonment – Confining you within your own home or at another location against your will.
- Criminal Restraint – Holding you in a condition of involuntary servitude or restraining you in a way that exposes you to serious bodily injury.
- Sexual Assault – Using a weapon or threat of physical force or coercion to rape you or to force unwanted sexual penetration.
- Criminal Sexual Contact – Using a weapon or threat of physical force or coercion to force unwanted sexual touching.
- Lewdness – Any flagrantly lewd or offensive act, such as exposing oneself, which would reasonably be expected to offend, embarrass, or alarm you.
- Criminal Mischief – Purposely damaging your personal property including your car, your home, your clothing, your pets, or any other possession.
- Burglary – Entering your home or other structure without your permission with the intention of committing a crime.
- Criminal Trespass – Entering or secretly remaining in your home or other structure, such as your workplace, without permission; or peering into windows or openings of dwelling places for the purpose of invading your privacy.
- Harassment – With intent to harass: communicating with you anonymously or at inconvenient times, or using offensive language; engaging in any conduct to alarm or annoy you; or hitting, kicking, or offensively touching or threatening to touch you.
- Cyber-harassment – With intent to harass: communicating online to threaten physical harm to you or your property; knowingly sending, posting, commenting, etc. any lewd material to or about you with intent to cause emotional harm; or threatening to commit any crime against you or your property.
- Stalking – On two or more occasions: maintaining visual or physical proximity to you, directly or through others, by any action, method, device, or means; following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening or communicating to you or about you, or interfering with your property; harassing you or conveying verbal or written threats by any means of communication. Stalking makes you reasonably fear for your safety or the safety of another person or to suffer emotional distress.
- Criminal Coercion – Threatening to harm you, accuse you of an offense, or expose any secret which would subject you to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, for the purpose of forcing you to do something or preventing you from doing something; threatening to provide or withhold information or testimony regarding a legal issue.
- Robbery – Using the force, or causing bodily injury, or threatening to cause bodily injury while committing or attempting to commit a theft from you.
- Contempt – Purposefully or knowingly violating any domestic violence Restraining Order.
- Other Crimes – Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury.
Condition #3: Do you need a Final Restraining Order for protection against future acts of violence?
YES, if you show at least one of the following:
- The abuser has committed acts of domestic violence against you in the past (even if they have not been reported); OR
- The current act of domestic violence is particularly serious; OR
- The facts show that the pattern or substance of the abuser’s behavior requires a court order to prevent future abuse.