Any type of physical, mental, or verbal abuse that significantly threatens a person’s life, emotional health, or mental health is considered domestic violence. Married couples, cohabitants, couples that are dating, parents and their children can become involved in domestic violence situations that can quickly escalate to a dangerous level. The emotional bonds of those involved in a domestic dispute cause some of the most volatile situations that can result in serious injury, or even death.
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 was enacted to help protect victims of domestic violence, and to train and help protect law enforcement officials who respond to these complaints. According to the annual Report on the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, over 40,000 domestic violence complaints were reported in New Jersey in just one year.
New Jersey recognizes that domestic violence can take many forms. Understanding the nature of each type can help a domestic violence victim or one falsely accused of domestic violence.
- Assault: A person can be found guilty of simple or aggravated assault if they purposely, recklessly, or knowingly attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another person; carelessly use a deadly weapon to cause harm to another person; threaten the life of another by pointing a firearm at them; or physically threaten to cause harm to another person.
- Harassment/Verbal Abuse: A person can be found guilty of harassment or verbal abuse if they: Continuously make offensive remarks, yell, name call, or put down another person; contact victims at inappropriate hours; strike, kick, or shove a person; inappropriately touch a victim; threaten violence; or act extremely inappropriate to seriously alarm or annoy another person.
- Mental or Emotional Abuse: A person who consistently isolates a victim socially, physically, or emotionally from others; forcefully controls access to finances; or puts extreme limits on food, shelter, or personal necessities is guilty of mental and emotional abuse. Neglect in the care of children is also considered emotional abuse.
- Sexual Abuse: Anyone who forcefully engages in acts of a sexual nature against the will of another is guilty of sexual abuse. This can occur between married or cohabitant couples, adults and children, or in dating relationships.
- Terroristic Threats: A person is guilty of making terroristic threats if they attempt to terrorize a victim by threatening physical violence, or if they threaten to kill a person in an attempt to cause extreme fear.
When domestic violence occurs, it is vital to seek protection. Calling the police to intervene in the situation is most effective in implementing protective orders. Victims of domestic violence can petition their municipal courts for a temporary restraining order (TRO) that limits the physical access that an abuser can have to their victim. A temporary restraining order expires in ten days, but within that time period the courts will review the details of the case to establish cause for a permanent restraining order.
During the time that the restraining order is in effect, the abuser is prohibited from verbally or physically communicating with the victim, including phone calls, text messages, social media, and third party interventions. They may also be limited to attending events or social occasions that the victim is attending. Victims of domestic violence who have obtained a restraining order are entitled to assistance from law enforcement officials to implement the order. If an accused abuser violates the restraining order, they will be arrested and jailed, and may also lose child custody and visitation rights.
Marital, cohabitant, and committed relationships involve some of the most extreme emotions, which can lead some people to falsely accuse a partner of domestic violence. When this occurs, the repercussions on those falsely accused can have devastating consequences. Loss of child custody and visitation rights, financial implications, and criminal charges are some of the most serious penalties. For those falsely accused of domestic violence in New Jersey, it is imperative to enlist the help of an experienced South Jersey domestic violence lawyer. With their help, the victim can prove the accusations against them are false, and prevent the consequences that accompany those charges.