The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) lists 18 different actions which, when committed, are considered to be domestic violence. What many people may not know is that acts of criminal mischief, specifically destroying another person’s property, can also be considered an act of domestic violence from which that person may ask the court to issue a temporary restraining order. If a temporary restraining order is entered, the court will schedule the case for a final restraining order hearing.
While the stereotype of an angry girlfriend lighting her boyfriend’s clothes on fire may be considered somewhat funny, the fact of the matter is that such actions can easily be considered domestic violence in New Jersey and Morris County, and result in a restraining order being filed against that girlfriend.
When Is Violence or Abuse Considered “Domestic Violence”?
Florham Park, NJ Domestic Violence Lawyers
In order for any of the 18 actions listed in the PDVA to be considered domestic violence, they need to have been committed by a party with a certain relationship to the victim. This must be someone who is 18 years of age or an emancipated adult and:
- A spouse
- An estranged spouse
- A divorced spouse
- A person living with the victim, either presently or in the past
- A romantic partner
- A parent of a common child
When a person commits an act of criminal mischief against another, but does not have one of the relationships listed above to the victim, then that act will not be considered domestic violence for the purpose of obtaining a restraining order in the family court.
Criminal Mischief and Restraining Orders
Randolph, NJ Restraining Order Attorneys
Now that we have a better understanding of the type of relationship necessary for actions to be considered domestic violence in the family court, we can examine what types of criminal actions will be considered domestic violence, and can allow the victim of these actions to file for a restraining order.
Basically, the destruction of any kind of property (considered “criminal mischief”) can be considered domestic violence. This includes the destruction of individual property as well as jointly-owned property. This is especially important to know, as if a partner willfully destroys or damages anything of value like furniture, a car, your home, or even expensive appliances like a t.v., those actions can, and most likely will, be considered domestic violence, and may result in a temporary restraining order and ultimately, a final restraining order hearing.
Appellate Division Affirms Criminal Mischief and Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Denville, NJ Domestic Violence and Restraining Order Lawyers
The idea that the destruction of property is considered domestic violence, and thus can result in a restraining order was affirmed by the Appellate Division in the unpublished decision in H.C.F. v. J.T.B., (A-5618-14T3, App.Div. Sept. 7, 2017).
In this case, the parties in question were married, but had been sleeping in separate rooms for some time when the incident occured. The incident in question involved the defendant punching the door to the plaintiff’s room, causing it to come off its hinges. As part of its finding, the trial court (affirmed by the appellate court), found that although the home was jointly owned, that did not give the defendant the right to damage that property, and thus his actions constituted domestic violence.
Contact Our Morris County Restraining Order Attorneys Today
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients with all types of domestic violence and restraining order issues in towns across New Jersey and Morris County, including Madison, Randolph, Florham Park, Denville, Hanover, Tewksbury and Morristown.
We understand that temporary restraining orders are an important tool for the victims of domestic violence and abuse, but also that they can be used as a sword rather than a shield in many instances.
Whether you are in need of protection from an abuser, or are in need of representation in the case of false allegations of domestic violence, our legal team is prepared to provide you with the knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate legal services you need and deserve in matters so critical to your legal and financial future.
To speak with our team today in a strategic planning session regarding your unique needs and concerns when it comes to domestic violence or a restraining order, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366.