Union County NJ Harassment and Restraining Order Protection Attorneys
New Jersey law defines harassment as when a person behaves in a way that is intended to cause distress or alarm.
Harassment is most often a very complicated issue. Harassment often is the avenue used by those who want to cause harm or distress to another in an indirect, sneaky, or underhanded manner. This type of offense is usually difficult to prove given that harassers often are creative in the types of actions and methods they deploy.
To be clear, this behavior must happen on more than one occasion. It can be the same type of behavior or different types of behavior on each occasion. For example, a single text message intended to distress you is not harassment.
When a court is deciding whether your abuser’s behavior is harassment, it will consider whether a reasonable person, who had the same information your abuser had, would think that it is harassment. Harassment can be a range of activities, including:
- texts, answer-phone messages, letters or email
- comments or threats
- acts of violence
- damage to someone else’s property
- maliciously and falsely reporting you to the police when you have done nothing wrong
The law, however, does provide individuals protection against this type of aggression. In the State of New Jersey, a person commits the predicate act of harassment as defined by N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4 if, with the purpose to harass another, they:
- Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
- Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or another offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
- Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
Restraining orders in for protection against Harassment
If you or someone you know is the victim of harassment, it is within your or their rights to seek the aid of the courts in putting an end to that harassment. The first step is to seek a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). When filing a complaint about a restraining order, you can ask for a temporary ex parte restraining order (TRO) to be issued immediately. It is within the power of a judge to grant a TRO if they find that it is necessary to protect life, health, or well-being; including mental well-being. If granted, the order will last until the hearing for a final restraining order, which is generally scheduled within 10 days. Moreover, an “ex parte” TRO can be issued based only on the information you provide, without the abuser being in court and without prior notice to him/her.
Moreover, should you not be able to be physically present in court and the judge believes that there are sufficiently urgent (exigent) circumstances to excuse your failure to appear personally in court, a judge can issue a TRO upon:
- Your sworn testimony or complaint; or
- Upon the sworn testimony or complaint of a person who represents you if you are physically or mentally incapable of personally filing
Final Restraining Orders and Civil Harassment Restraining Orders
It is not uncommon for a claim of harassment to come before the court in the context of restraining orders. The New Jersey case of Silver v. Silver established the two-part test New Jersey courts use to determine whether to grant a final restraining order (FRO). A plaintiff will be obligated to prove (1) that the defendant committed one or more of the predicate acts of domestic violence provided in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA); and (2) the FRO is a necessity to protect the plaintiff.
It is important to note that not all harassment is related to domestic violence. A civil harassment restraining order is a court order which helps to protect people from violence, stalking, serious harassment, and threats of violence. These include situations where the harasser is not a former spouse, a former romantic partner, or a close member of your family (i.e. parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law). Often when it comes to civil harassment restraining order the person is a neighbor, a roommate, a former friend, a family member more than 2 degrees removed (such as an aunt or uncle, a niece, nephew, cousins, or more distant relatives), or other people who you are not closely related to.
It is possible to petition for a civil harassment restraining order in cases where:
- You have been abused (or threatened with abuse), sexually assaulted, stalked, or seriously harassed
- You are scared, seriously annoyed or being harassed
It is critically important to remember that if you are 65 or older or a dependent adult, you not only can file a civil harassment restraining order against someone you are not close to, but you can also file an elder or dependent adult abuse restraining order. This is often better for you given that you may be able to get more help before, during, and after the court case.
Consult an Experienced Cranford Harassment Attorney Today to File a Restraining Order in order to Protect Yourself and Your Family
If you, a loved one, or someone you care about is suffering from harassment it is wise to consult an attorney with experience with these issues as soon as possible.
At Attorney Edward S. Cooper, our team of experienced attorneys is committed to serving our clients across Summit, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Linden, and Union County in all cases regarding harassment whether it is in the workplace, at the hands of a former romantic partner, or in the area of civil harassment.