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19 Predicate Acts of Domestic Violence

By Jamie Berger, Esq.

Domestic violence in New Jersey is taken seriously by law enforcement and the courts. Often, there is no proof of domestic violence other than that of a witness and what the witness claims to have seen. In other cases, there may be text messages, photographs, or injuries witnessed by police officers.  Whether there is proof or not, you should contact an experienced lawyer to assist in fully understanding domestic violence and the court process.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is an act committed by one person against another. In order for the act to be deemed domestic violence, the parties must be family/household members, someone with whom the victim has had a dating relationship, individuals with a child in common, or an emancipated minor. For instance, if two friends get into a fistfight, this would be considered simple assault but not domestic violence, because the two parties involved do not have one of the relationships that qualify under the law.

Types of domestic violence

In proving domestic violence, the victim must show that the alleged abuser committed an act of domestic violence.  New Jersey law provides for 19 different predicate acts that constitute domestic violence.

Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A 2C:33 et al., the following is a list of crimes or offenses that, if proven, would make one guilty of domestic violence:

Harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4)

Harassment often encompasses repeated communications or communications at inconvenient times or using coarse or abusive language. This can be accomplished in person, by phone, email, and text via messages.

Assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1)

Assault can be proven if the victim suffered some type of pain, however slight.  For example, a slap, a push, and a punch are all acts of simple assault.

Terroristic threats (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3)

Any person who threatens to commit a violent act or puts another person in fear of injury can be proven to have committed terroristic threats.

Criminal mischief (N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3)

Criminal mischief occurs when one person damages the property of another.  Believe it or not, throwing and breaking a person’s cell phone can considered domestic violence. Likewise, kicking a car, breaking a window, and ripping another’s clothing are all acts of criminal mischief.

Criminal restraint (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2)

Restricting someone’s movement and posing a risk of injury is known as criminal restraint.

False imprisonment (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-3)

As the term suggests, false imprisonment restricts a person’s ability to move from place to place.

Burglary (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2)

Burglary occurs when a person enters or remains in a structure (ie house, apartment, etc.) without permission with the intention of committing a crime inside. The intended crime can include anything from theft to simple assault, to criminal mischief.

Criminal sexual contact (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-1, 2C:14-3)

Under this law, no one is permitted to use force or coercion in having sexual contact with another.

Sexual assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-1, 2C:14-2)

Sexual assault is the sexual penetration of another while using force or coercion. Penetration can be oral, vaginal, anal, or digital.

Kidnapping (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1)

Taking a victim from one location to another without the victim’s consent is considered kidnapping. These offenses may be done by force, threat, or deception.

Stalking (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10, 2C:12-10.1)

A person can be considered to be a stalker by following someone, messaging, or causing a person to be contacted on multiple occasions which causes the victim to fear for his or her safety.

Lewdness (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4)

A flagrantly lewd or offensive act done in front of another who does not want to be a part of the conduct is considered to be lewdness.

Criminal trespass (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3)

Anyone who does not have permission to be in a place that is not open to the public can be found guilty of criminal trespass (provided they were on notice that they have not permission to be there).

Homicide (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1 to 2C:11-4)

Homicide is causing the death of another.  An attempted homicide can be used as the basis for a restraining order.

Criminal Coercion (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5)

Criminal coercion is completed when one person uses threats to cause you to do or not do something. The threats are used to put the other person in fear of harm.

Robbery (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1)

Robbery is the taking of another’s property by use of force or threat of force.

Contempt of a domestic violence restraining order (N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9)

Contempt is the refusal to abide by a court order. In the case of domestic violence, if a temporary restraining order (TRO) or permanent restraining order (FRO) is in place, the person subject to the order has been placed on notice not to contact the victim. If they contact or come into contact with a victim, they can be found guilty of contempt.

Cyber-harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1)

Cyber-harassment occurs when one person posts photos, messages, or images that are indecent or obscene in an effort to threaten the other party.  This can be done on any online format.

Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury

Any crime against another that risks injury or death can be considered a predicate act of domestic violence in New Jersey.

Contact our Morristown Domestic Violence Lawyers Today

At Jacobs Berger, we strongly believe that domestic violence is an extremely serious crime. Retaining an experienced attorney is perhaps one of the most important decisions when facing Domestic Violence Issues.

With more than 25 combined years of experience, we are willing to go the extra mile to address your personalized case in Morris County communities such as Madison, Randolph, Morristown, Dover, Denville, Florham Park, Rockaway, Tewksbury, and Northern New Jersey. Our firm offers dynamic and personalized legal solutions aimed at serving the unique needs and concerns of each of our clients.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a domestic violence incident, contact us online or over the phone by calling our Morris County offices at (973) 718-7705 today for a strategic planning session. Whether you are facing damaging false domestic violence accusations or you need protection from an abuser, we are here to assist in determining how we can best protect your physical and legal rights.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.