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What to Do If You’re a Victim of Domestic Violence in New Jersey

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

Victims of domestic violence often feel confused, distraught, and trapped in the cycle of abuse with their significant others.  As a result, they seldom speak out for fear of retribution or lack of support. It is important for victims to know that in New Jersey, the court offers protection to those who may be victims of domestic violence.

What to Do If Victimized by Domestic Violence

If you have been abused, harassed, or are fearful based on the acts of a family member or a romantic partner, you should call the police. Calling the police and advising them of any threats or acts of domestic violence against you will assist in your protection. You can call the police in the town in which you reside, where you work, or where the incident took place. If you have been injured or there is a complaint of domestic violence, the police officer can assist you in filing for a temporary restraining order (or you can contact a lawyer who can help you file a domestic violence restraining order in NJ). You will be required to go before a judge, who will ask you what occurred and if you are in fear for your safety. Based upon your statements, the judge can issue a temporary restraining order that prohibits the abuser from contacting you or anyone named on the order.

In some instances, the order will include any household members residing with you. This can include children and other relatives in the home. The temporary order will list your residence as a place that the abuser cannot return to, regardless of whether or not they live there as well. Additionally, he or she will be restricted from coming within so many feet of you or going to any of the other places included in the TRO.

The Restraining Order Process in New Jersey

After the temporary restraining order is given, the judge will set a final restraining order return date. The police will serve the complainant (the defendant or abuser) with the temporary order and the date for the court hearing. At the final hearing, the judge may hear testimony from you, a police officer, any other witness with pertinent information. You may present witnesses that saw the violence or saw your emotional state after the violence. Similarly, you can call any officer who saw your bruises firsthand, responded to a call or can confirm that you stated having experienced domestic violence to at the time of the incident or in the past. The defendant is also allowed to testify and call witnesses in support of their case.

Tips on what to do…

In the event that you are a victim of domestic violence, it is wise to retain evidence if you can. Take pictures of your bruises or injuries and keep the pictures in a safe place. You should also retain copies of text messages that are harassing or so excessive that they have become harassing. Any and all evidence that you have of abuse or prior abuse should be presented at the final hearing. You may wish to retain an attorney or present your own evidence if you do not have an attorney. You can present photographs, statements, witness testimony and any information which shows that violence occurred and you are in fear for your safety.

Final Restraining Order based on Credibility and Facts of the Case

After the hearing, the judge will weigh the credibility of each person and make a determination as to whether a final restraining order should be issued. At this point, the may issue a Final Restraining Order (FRO), which signals the end of the case. The FRO will permanently prohibit the abuser from contacting you in any way. It remains in place permanently and is considered valid throughout the United States unless one or both parties seek to vacate the order at a later date.

Contact Our Morris County Domestic Violence Lawyers Today

Whatever you do, you must not blame yourself. Our domestic violence attorneys can help with seeking a restraining order and represent you at the Final Hearing – all you have to do is contact our law firm to get started: (973) 354-4551. At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across Madison, Randolph, Florham Park, Hanover, Tewksbury, Morris County, and throughout New Jersey to secure permanent legal protection from domestic violence through a Final Restraining Order, and to defend themselves from false allegations of domestic violence and the life-long consequences Final Restraining Orders can have.

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.