Domestic Violence Complaint Process Union County NJ
Family Law and Domestic Violence Attorneys serving in Linden, Rahway, Clark, Roselle and throughout Union County, NJ
The state of New Jersey’s procedures in cases of domestic violence are clearly outlined by the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. In New Jersey, domestic violence is a civil crime. It is not treated as a criminal offense, and in most cases, a charge of domestic violence results in the arrest of the accused and the placement of civil restraints, the most common of which are restricted contact with the victim and removal from the home.
In the case that a victim calls law enforcement, officers undergo the following procedure:
They examine both parties. If either involved party displays physical injury, it is the officers’ legal duty to arrest the other party. An accused aggressor will also be arrested if there is evidence that they have disobeyed a court order.
Upon the arrest of the accused perpetrator, officers take statements from both parties, requiring that the victim be detailed in their recounting of the events leading up to injury. The accused aggressor has the right to remain silent, though one cannot count on the officers to remind the accused after the initial arrest, in which their rights are read.
Filing a Domestic Violence Complaint
Upon providing a detailed account, the victim is offered the option of filing a domestic violence complaint. This complaint includes information about the predicate act, which is a detail of the event directly leading to the filing of the domestic violence complaint and will also detail all other incidents of domestic violence by the accused aggressor in the past. Providing this extensive information, even if prior experiences of domestic violence were not reported, is important because it provides authorities with context regarding the case.
When a victim files a domestic violence complaint, a restraining order is not automatically filed. A victim may request that a restraining order be placed on the accused aggressor, but it is not automatic or required. That said, if the victim shows injury sustained by the accused aggressor, it is likely that temporary restraining order, a TRO, will be placed on the accused aggressor. In the case that a TRO is filed, the Superior or Municipal court will schedule a hearing within ten days in order to determine the necessity of issuing a final restraining order. At this hearing, the victim, as well as any witnesses, will be invited to testify, and the officer may testify upon receiving a subpoena to appear in court. This subpoena needs to be pursued by the victim, as a voluntary appearance by the arresting officer is not likely in its absence.
What Happens During the Domestic Violence Hearing in NJ?
During the final domestic violence hearing, the victim will again describe for the judge the predicate act and any prior experiences of domestic violence at the hands of the accused aggressor. Again, other witnesses may also testify. At the final hearing the accused is also offered an opportunity to testify. While they have the legal right to remain silent so as to not self-incriminate, utilized especially in the case that one or more charges filed against them are criminal, they may choose to testify as to the events of the predicate act and accusations of past violence.
If the result of the hearing is that a Final Restraining Order, a FRO, is filed, the accused will be legally barred from contacting the victim at home or work. Additionally, an accused against whom a FRO is filed risks suspension or revocation of any New Jersey professional license they may hold is legally barred from operating a firearm and is entered into a database of domestic violence offenders.
Alternately, an accused may be issued a Civil Restraint in lieu of a FRO, in which they may not be allowed to contact the other at home or at work, though authorities are not legally required to respond should its parameters be broken. In this case, the victim would need to file another domestic violence complaint and FRO.
Contact our Linden, NJ Criminal Defense and Family Law Attorneys Today
It is important to have an experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal process and is familiar with the nuances of courtroom procedures defenses, and strategies.
Attorney Edward Cooper uses his extensive experience in towns such as Linden, Cranford, Clark, Roselle, Rahway, Clark and throughout Union County, NJ to more effectively advocate for his clients who face prosecution in these jurisdictions.
If you or someone you love has been charged with domestic violence or another criminal offense in Linden, Rahway, Clark, Roselle and throughout Union County NJ, contact us at the law offices of Attorney Edward S. Cooper today at (908) 481-4625 for a free consultation.