A Look at the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991
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Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991

Ceconi & Cheifetz, Summit Family Lawyers

NJ Domestic Violence
NJ Domestic Violence

Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991

Ceconi & Cheifetz, Summit Family Lawyers

The New Jersey Supreme Court has declared that there is no such thing as an act of domestic violence that is not serious. In recognition, the New Jersey Legislature enacted the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 with a strong commitment to the eradication of domestic violence. The Act was enacted to protect cohabitants as well as the elderly and disabled from abuse.

Victims in Dating Relationships

A subsequent amendment further defined a “victim of domestic violence” to include any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship. Factors determining whether a dating relationship is covered under the Act to include consideration of:

  1. Minimal social or interpersonal bonding of parties beyond a mere casual fraternization
  2. Length of alleged dating activities prior to the alleged act of domestic violence
  3. Nature and frequency of the parties interaction
  4. The ongoing expectation of one or both parties regarding their relationship
  5. Whether the parties affirmed to their relationship before others
  6. Any other relevant reasons

Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence

As a result of the 1995 Amendments, “in house,” restraining orders permitting the victim and the defendant to occupy the same premises have been prohibited.

This legislation this legislation was intended to protect victims of domestic violence and provide uniformity in prosecuting and adjudicating claims. The Legislature deemed acts of domestic violence a serious crime against society which required maximum protection from abuse for its victims. Generally, domestic violence consists of a pattern of abusive behavior initiated by a perpetrator who has an unhealthy need to control and dominate their partner. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was enacted to ensure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse that the law allows.

Forms of Domestic Violence

The acts of domestic violence can take many forms. The predicate act is generally defined by the criminal statutes. Any of the following can qualify as a predicate act:

1. Homicide
2. Assault
3. Terroristic threats
4. Kidnapping
5. Criminal restraint
6. False imprisonment
7. Sexual assault

8. Criminal sexual contact
9. Lewdness
10. Criminal mischief
11. Burglary
12. Criminal trespass
13. Harassment
14. Stalking

1. Homicide
2. Assault
3. Terroristic threats
4. Kidnapping
5. Criminal restraint
6. False imprisonment
7. Sexual assault
8. Criminal sexual contact
9. Lewdness
10. Criminal mischief
11. Burglary
12. Criminal trespass
13. Harassment
14. Stalking

Forms of Harassment

The most common causes of action are harassment and stalking. A person commits harassment when he or she with purpose:

  1. Makes a communication anonymously at extremely inconvenient hours or in offensively coarse language or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm
  2. Strikes, kicks, shoves or otherwise offensively touches another or threatens to do so
  3. Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy another person
  4. The conduct referred to in No. 1, 2 or 3 becomes a crime of the 4th degree if the actor engages in it to intimidate an individual or group because of race, color, gender, religion, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity

Forms of Stalking

A person commits stalking if the defendant purposely engages in speech or course of conduct that is capable of causing a reasonable person to fear immediate bodily injury or death injury or death to themselves or immediate family.

Upon the defendant’s release, the victim’s location will remain confidential and will not appear on any documents or records to which the perpetrator has access.

Restraining Order and Other Court Orders

The Court has the ability to fashion the entry of a Temporary or Final Restraining Order prohibiting the perpetrator from having any contact with the victim or his or her place of employment. In addition, a court may enter an Order for other relief including but not limited to:

  1. Counseling
  2. Compensatory or punitive damages
  3. An award of custody
  4. An award of a residence and its contents and family automobile
  5. Spousal support
  6. Determining that Plaintiff is a victim of domestic violence as defined by the statute
  7. Determining that the perpetrator committed an act of domestic violence as defined by the statute
  8. Granting exclusive possession of the marital home or apartment
  9. Requiring the perpetrator to pay rent for an apartment for the victim
  10. Providing for visitation
  11. Ordering a risk assessment to determine risk of harm to a child before permitting visitation
  12. An order requiring the Defendant to pay the victim monetary compensation or reimburse the violent crimes compensation bought on behalf of the victim

The Impact of a Domestic Violence Conviction on an Attorney

One must be sensitive if the party accused of committing domestic violence is an attorney, since the New Jersey Supreme Court has mandated that an attorney who has been found to commit an act of domestic violence may be subject to license suspension for three (3) months following conviction, which will have an economic impact on the family.

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