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The NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act Explained

October 6, 2020 by

The NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act Explained

New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) is a sweeping state law that defines domestic violence as committing one or more of 19 criminal offenses upon a person who is involved in or has had a relationship with the alleged perpetrator. Offenses under the law include crimes of violence as well as cyberstalking and other acts of harassment. The gender of the parties is not a factor. The PDVA allows an alleged victim of domestic violence to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) against a defendant by requesting one. A final restraining order (FRO) requires evidence and a hearing, but even a TRO can disrupt a defendant’s life and be financially costly. While we support efforts to stop domestic violence, we also understand how unfounded domestic violence allegations can damage a person’s personal and professional life. A domestic violence defense lawyer can help you understand your rights and prepare a defense for you if you face domestic violence accusations. Every individual has the right to a robust legal defense against criminal accusations, and domestic violence claims are no exception. If you have been accused of a domestic violence offense, reach out to a New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Does the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act Say?

The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et seq.) is the means by which one party in a domestic relationship may obtain a restraining order against another party in a relationship. A restraining order issued by the court puts restrictions on the alleged perpetrator of domestic violence to keep him or her away from the alleged victim. In addition to requesting a restraining order, an alleged victim of domestic violence can file a criminal complaint arising from the same incident. Under the PDVA, the plaintiff in a domestic violence case must have a relationship with the defendant that puts him or her in the class of individuals protected by the statute. Individuals protected by the PDVA must have a relationship with the defendant which constitutes:

  • Marriage
  • Separation
  • Divorce
  • Living together in the same household at present or in the past
  • A current or former dating relationship
  • Parents who have a child in common
  • A relationship in which the alleged plaintiff and perpetrator anticipate having a child in common.

The plaintiff must be 18 years old or older or be an emancipated minor. The defendant must be 18. The person making the complaint must have endured at least one incident of domestic violence. Any of the following offenses may constitute domestic violence:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Simple assault
  • Terroristic threat
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal restraint
  • False imprisonment
  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Lewdness
  • Criminal mischief
  • Burglary
  • Criminal trespass
  • Harassment
  • Cyber harassment
  • Stalking
  • Criminal coercion
  • Robbery
  • Contempt of a domestic violence order
  • Homicide (murder).

Any crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury against a person protected by the PDVA can also be charged as domestic violence.

Why Did New Jersey Adopt the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act?

Within the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, the State of New Jersey says, “The Legislature finds and declares that domestic violence is a serious crime against society.” It found “that there are thousands of persons in this state who are regularly beaten, tortured and in some cases killed by their spouses or cohabitants. That a significant number of women who are assaulted are pregnant. That victims of domestic violence came from all social and economic backgrounds and ethnic groups.” The law states further, “It is the responsibility of the courts to protect victims of violence that occurs in a family or family-like setting by providing access to both emergent and long-term civil and criminal remedies and sanctions, and by ordering those remedies and sanctions that are available to assure the safety of the victims and the public.” In a training manual for police, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice declares that “Domestic violence is responsible for more injuries to women than any other reason, exceeding injuries due to rape, mugging, and traffic accidents combined.” Further, it says, “By enforcing the domestic violence laws, the officer provides the most effective deterrent to future abuse.” This is the mindset that New Jersey police have ingrained in them when they answer a domestic violence call. It is the same way a municipal court or superior court judge looks at the pleas of an alleged domestic violence victim who is seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO). While a judge must fairly weigh evidence before issuing a final restraining order (FRO), they understand what’s expected of them. New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is designed entirely to protect victims and prosecute those who engage in domestic violence. But, even in domestic violence cases, the accused has the right to be presumed innocent by the court unless and until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If you face charges under the PDVA, it is imperative for you to be represented by an experienced defense attorney who will defend your rights. Attorney Jason A. Volet can make sure your side of the story is heard and that any testimony or evidence against you is thoroughly examined before the court in a final restraining order hearing. Under a FRO in New Jersey, a judge’s final order could bar you from access to your home, require you to make appointments to see your children, and make you pay child support for a year or more. Mr. Volet can defend you from domestic violence criminal charges, as well.

Contact a NJ Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

New Jersey’s legislature and judiciary have seen to it that domestic violence cases are taken very seriously in our state. This is how it should be, but a defendant’s Constitutional rights must be protected, as well. If you are facing domestic violence charges, your personal and professional future is at stake, and you could face prison, fines, loss of custody of your child and more. Freehold defense attorney Jason A. Volet understands the seriousness of these charges and is prepared to help you mount a strong defense. Contact The Law Office of Jason A. Volet today to get work on your defense started. You can also visit our office located at 28 Court Street, Freehold, NJ 07728.

About the Author

Jason A. Volet
Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a criminal trial attorney, Jason A. Volet focuses his practice exclusively on criminal and municipal defense in New Jersey and New York. He earned his B.A. in political science from Rutgers College in 1995 and his J.D. from the Hofstra University School of Law in 1998. Mr. Volet began his career in the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, where he gained extensive experience prosecuting both juvenile and adult offenders. Now, as a criminal defense attorney, he uses that experience to fight for the rights of individuals who have been charged with a crime.

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  • American Bar Association ABA logo defending liberty persuing justice
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  • New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Criminal Defense Attorney logo
  • Avvo Rating Superb Top Attorney Criminal Defense NJ
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