Clients often consult the attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf regarding what constitutes domestic violence. In order for a crime to be considered a domestic violence offense, the perpetrator and victim must have a personal relationship either at the present time or sometime in the past. Personal relationships include marriage, separation, divorce, or residing together in the same household. Relationships can also persons who dated or had a child together.
Generally, domestic violence can include one or more of the following crimes: aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, and criminal trespass or mischief.
Typically, when a domestic violence scenario arises, the victim can do one of two things. The first is to file a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against the defendant. If there are legal grounds for the restraining order, a TRO will be issued, which includes a date (within 10 days) to return to court for a final hearing. At the final hearing, the judge will hear testimony from the parties and determine if an act of domestic violence occurred. The judge can grant many types of relief to the victim including a final restraining order (“FRO”), prohibitions against contact and harassment, custody of any minor children involved, child support, rent or mortgage payments, professional counseling, and prohibition against weapon possession by the defendant. If a FRO is issued by the judge, this lasts indefinitely in New Jersey, unless the victim decides to dismiss the complaint.
The second type of potential relief for a victim of domestic violence is to file a criminal complaint against the perpetrator. This can be done along with the filing of a restraining order. A criminal complaint can be filed at the police department or municipal court in the town where the violent incident occurred.