Category: Restraining Orders
Guide to Understanding How Controlling Behavior is a Type of Domestic Abuse
Coercive behavior can become a repetitive action in a relationship that needs to be stopped as soon as possible. It also qualifies as a criminal act of domestic violence in NJ.
In intimate and family relationships, coercive control is considered a type of domestic abuse and pattern of behavior by which a perpetrator will use acts of intimidation, manipulation, threats, isolation, humiliation, and demands (among other things) to destroy a person’s sense of independence and self-worth. Although this use of power to gain control is often seen as an early predictor of future physical violence, even when it doesn’t escalate to violence, coercive control leaves emotional scars and psychological trauma, which negatively impacts the victim’s mental health and may cause PTSD or depression. A 2015 survey on Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey showed that American men and women will experience some form of coercive control by an intimate partner, at similar rates, during their lifetime.
Since 2015, criminal coercion has been considered one of the 19 criminal offenses listed under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) of 1991. As an invisible chain that comes in many guises, it perpetuates an ongoing cycle of controlling abuse whereby the victim may feel dependent on their abuser and unable to escape the toxic relationship they’re in.
If you or you suspect someone you care about is being coerced or intimidated to do something in their relationship they don’t want to do, it is essential to act immediately in domestic abuse cases. Even if you are someone facing alleged criminal coercion charges in New Jersey as a result of a restraining order or other alleged crimes that put you on the wrong side of a domestic violence protective order, you need skilled criminal and domestic violence defense lawyers on your side to help protect your constitutional rights.
The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC understands that domestic violence is a serious crime that can significantly impact the victim and any children who witness or experience the abuse and have a long-lasting effect on those convicted of these crimes.
With offices conveniently located in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ, our legal team serves clients in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, as well as in cities like Allenwood, Bayville, Beachwood, Brielle, Howell, Manasquan, Pine Beach, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Spring Lake, and Toms River.
How to Recognize the 7 Signs of Criminal Coercion in NJ Domestic Violence Cases
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5, a person can be found guilty of criminal coercion or coercive control, if they purposefully and unlawfully restrict another’s freedom of action or force them to engage in an action, by means of threats to:
- inflict injury on their person or that of another person
- accuse another person of an offense
- expose a damaging secret that would subject a person, their business, or credit to contempt, hatred, ridicule, or scorn
- take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action
- bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective action, except that such a threat shall not be deemed coercive when the restriction compelled is demanded in the course of negotiation for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor acts
- testify or withhold information in a defense case or other legal matter
- perform any other act which would not in itself substantially benefit the person making the threat, but which is calculated to substantially harm another person’s relationships, health, safety, business, career, financial standing, or reputation.
Typical Examples of Coercive Control & Emotional Abuse in Domestic Violence Cases
Emotional or psychological abuse is just as damaging to survivors, even though they are often harder to detect. Typical examples of coercive control are:
- isolation from one’s family or support system
- monitoring one’s activities via electronic recoding devices, their social media usage, or phone calls
- denying autonomy or restricting one’s freedom (i.e., taking their phone, limiting or denying access to transport, travel to school or work, or changing passwords)
- constant criticism, name-calling, or verbal abuse designed to erode self-confidence
- exerting control over finances and limiting access to money
- parental alienation
- controlling aspects of one’s personal health or hygiene, possibly even restricting their access to medical care
- threatening children or pets
- regulating their sexual relationship
- blackmailing or threatening to expose intimate personal information or sexual details
- manipulation in relation to clothing, lifestyle choices, or where a person might be at a given time
If you are concerned about coercive control in your relationship or someone you care about, don’t be afraid to seek help in the form of someone you trust or by calling the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 572-SAFE (7233) to access information, services, crisis intervention, as well as referral and advocacy options.
What Role Does Criminal Coercion Play in Obtaining a NJ Restraining Order?
As a form of domestic violence and threatening behavior, criminal coercion is a “predicate act” or grounds for filing a temporary or final restraining order. Because this type of behavior is often what prevents someone from filing for an order of protection, escaping a dangerous environment, or fearing for their safety or that of others, it is essential to find experienced legal counsel who can guide one through the process of protecting themselves and their vulnerable loved ones.
To obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO), the person requesting protection must prove three elements:
- a predicate act of domestic violence occurred (one of the 19 PDVA criminal offenses),
- a prior history of domestic violence, and
- that the restraining order is essential in protecting their immediate safety and well-being.
A final restraining order (FRO) usually takes place a week or two after a TRO is granted to determine the truth or veracity of the initial complaint and if there is a continued need for protection. If granted, a FRO could impact and restrict where a person who is served lives, works, their child custody, and future job and educational opportunities, among others things.
If you are involved in a domestic dispute, defend your rights and contact our office today.
What Three Elements Are Necessary for a NJ Prosecutor to Prove Criminal Coercion
To prove a person is guilty of criminal coercion, a prosecutor must prove that the alleged person’s:
- conduct fell under one of the 7 prohibited threat categories or signs for criminal coercion
- the goal, intent, or purpose was to restrict the freedom of another or prevent them from acting or refraining from acting in a certain way
- purpose or goal was unlawful.
What Are The Penalties for Criminal Coercion Offenses in New Jersey?
Each case is unique, but depending on the severity of the underlying charges, a domestic violence offense may be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. Criminal Coercion is typically classified as a fourth-degree crime, and if found guilty of this charge, you may receive:
- up to 18 months in prison and
- a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
However, if the alleged person’s goal is criminal, the crime is considered third degree. Persons convicted of a third-degree criminal coercion charge face:
- 3-5 years of imprisonment and
- up to $15,000 in fines.
Convictions for second-degree and first-degree criminal coercion can result in 5-10 years and up to 20 years, respectively.
Penalties may also be monetary, the convicted person may be required to attend anger management classes, and there is also the possibility of probation. In addition and in accordance with federal law, both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence convictions can prohibit an individual from purchasing firearms.
Why It’s Crucial to Have An Experienced NJ Lawyer for Your Criminal Coercion Case
Regardless if you are the Plaintiff or the Defendant, the thought of appearing and possibly testifying in court can seem overwhelming, but knowing you have a knowledgeable attorney by your side advocating for your well-being and safety and that of any children in your relationship, can bring you peace of mind in and of itself.
Skilled domestic violence attorneys are an invaluable resource to have, as they can present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, guide you through the protection order documentation filing process, protect your constitutional rights, and leverage years of their own experience to reduce much of the burden you may go through in cases likes these.
Contact a Brick, New Jersey Criminal Coercion & Domestic Violence Attorney Today
In domestic violence cases, it is critical to take action as soon as possible. Despite the current pandemic and unprecedented backlog of cases, domestic abuse cases are prioritized in New Jersey and expedited through the court.
If you live in towns such as Brielle, Rumson, Morganville, Manasquan, and Toms River, and want to discuss your unique family situation with an empathetic and experienced domestic violence attorney, contact The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC today online or by calling (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free and confidential case assessment.
Domestic Violence Attorneys Dealing with Modern Tracking Devices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ
You might think of stalking as a person following you, however, modern technology brings a whole new twist to this issue.
Stalking is one of the acts listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 as part of the definition of domestic violence. It’s in the list along with homicide, assault, and harassment, and it can be perpetrated by an intimate partner, a former intimate partner, or a member of your household.
Stalking and Technology in Ocean County, New Jersey
You might think of stalking as a person following you, watching you, or bothering you with unwanted texts, emails, or social media posts. But with modern technology, it’s taken a high-tech twist that can be hard to protect against.
Lately, abusive intimate partners have been stalking—a means of exercising control by creating fear—using navigation technologies built into modern vehicles. They might also use devices that stick with magnets to your car.
Of late, there’s been an increase in stalking via technology. It has law enforcement and community officials concerned since stalking is traumatic to the victim. It has also been known to lead to violence.
Officials are considering turning the tables on stalkers by using technology to keep track of them. If a stalker is convicted, he or she can be required to wear a GPS monitoring device. The stalker’s victim also carries a device that gives a warning tone when the stalker is within a certain distance, and it sends a text to the victim’s cellphone. It can also notify law enforcement officials to come to the location.
There are concerns about the civil liberties of stalkers being violated by having to wear a device like this. So officials counter that they will only require it on people who, upon evaluation, are deemed likely to be the most dangerous. Signs that they will be dangerous include:
- If they’ve threatened violence before
- If they have access to weapons
- The time invested in the relationship. The longer the relationship has been going on, the less likely the abuser is to let go.
Because of civil liberties concerns, NJ officials want only the most potentially dangerous people to be monitored.
If the stalker turns up at weird places—like places you’ve never been before, and he or she has no experiential knowledge of you going there—and at suspicious times—when you’re more likely to be alone—you may have a tracking device surreptitiously placed on your car. We advise you to take your car to a repair shop and have a mechanic look it over carefully. If your car has a built-in navigation system that your intimate partner had a role in setting up, you may have to get a different car for safety’s sake.
As the technologies for tracking and surveillance become ever-more advanced and commonplace, stalking is becoming more difficult to fight. Perpetrators are desperate people and will use any tool they can get their hands on to gain power over and abuse their victims.
And many forms of abuse require no advanced technologies or knowledge of how to use them. Abusers can use everyday devices like cellphones too. Even then, intimate partner abuse is hard to fight.
Steps are being taken: domestic violence organizations are approaching large communications and technology companies to ask them to consider how their product might be misused and to reduce that risk in the design phase.
A great number of people are suffering in New Jersey alone today because of stalking and the whole range of acts of domestic violence.
If you are the victim or someone you love is the victim, please speak up and tell law enforcement about the crime or crimes. New Jersey law is written to protect victims of domestic violence. It gives them the means to file criminal charges and seek monetary compensation to pay for injuries.
You also need to speak with a domestic violence attorney in New Jersey. The best way to protect loved ones, and yourself, is to act without delay another moment.
Consult a Berkeley NJ Domestic Violence Attorney for an Initial Consultation Today
Call Bronzino Law and we will give you effective legal counsel to fight domestic violence and gain protection from future abusive actions on the part of the household member or the past or present intimate partner.
We are experienced with domestic violence law in all its facets, and we’ll work to make sure you get the legal support that’s necessary to fight domestic violence. We serve clients in Toms River, Jackson, Brick, Manchester, Freehold, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, and places around our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ.
Call Bronzino Law Firm today at (732) 812-3102 for a free initial consultation to explore your options. We will work to protect you, guide you, and help you put this abusive situation in your rearview mirror.
How to Manage Your Contempt Charges with the Help of an Experienced Criminal Law Attorney
Being charged with contempt of court can significantly impact your life and result in punishments as severe as jail time, a fine, or even a felony conviction on your permanent record.
Although a person can be charged with contempt for inappropriate behavior which delays or disrupts court proceedings, very often a person can be charged with contempt as the result of violating a temporary restraining order (TRO) or final restraining order in simple assault or domestic violence cases. They can also be found in contempt for violating a family law court order related to child support or in problematic divorce cases where equal distribution of assets, property division, or alimony/spousal support agreement are an issue. In other cases, contempt charges may be brought for failing to appear in court or respond to a court summons.
If you or someone you know has been charged with contempt of court in New Jersey, or if you or a loved one is seeking to enforce a court-mandated order against a co-parent for child support, child custody agreement, or failure to honor a marital agreement, it’s best to retain experienced legal representation. No matter how minor the violation may seem, we can help you protect your rights. Our defense attorneys approach agreement resolution with a collaborative and amicable mindset, but will not hesitate to aggressively defend you in court.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience protecting our clients’ rights and finding realistic and effective solutions for any legal matter in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities, including Brick, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Howell, Wall, Point Pleasant, Toms River and all of Southern New Jersey.
What Constitutes Contempt of Court in New Jersey?
At its foundation, court contempt of court occurs when someone deliberately violates court order, does something to intentionally prevent a court order from being exercised, acts inappropriately in court, or disrespects the judge while court is in session, or behaves in a disrespectful manner while court is in session.
Even if the contempt violations were unintentional or committed in good faith, and may seem as minor as making contact via text message, a social media post, email, or a phone call, the state may move forward with charging that person with a disorderly persons offense.
What is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Contempt in New Jersey?
Although there are numerous ways to be found in contempt of court, it is generally differentiated between direct and indirect criminal contempt and civil contempt.
Direct contempt is considered inappropriate behavior (i.e., offensive language or not following court rules or decorum) that occurs in front of the judge, which is dealt with on the spot. Indirect contempt occurs outside the presence of a judge and may involve a lawyer or juror willfully violating a judicial order, such as a “gag order” to not discuss the case or court proceedings outside of court. Proving this type of offense requires the court to rely on third-party testimony.
Civil contempt of court charges, on the other hand, are often brought after the plaintiff files a suit against a defendant for financial damages or injunctive relief from the court. Typically examples are failure to obey a restraining order, pay child support, follow parental visitation orders, or a divorce decree.
Another distinction between civil and criminal contempt of court charges is the constitutional safeguards a person charged with criminal contempt has. Whereas criminal contempt is subjective and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, civil contempt must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.
What are the Penalties for Contempt in New Jersey?
The purpose of imposing criminal contempt charges is to punish disobedience and to preserve the court’s authority. Punishment for civil contempt charges are remedial and are designed to benefit the complainant. New Jersey family courts exercise a great deal of discretion when imposing penalties, and more often than not, the person found in contempt is ordered to pay the other’s attorney’s fees.
Depending on the situation, violating a court order can be classified as a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree criminal offense, especially if one commits another crime while violating the order. Although the threat of jail is often enough to gain compliance with a court order, the court may impose community service, wage garnishment, fines, drug or alcohol treatment, or loss of driving privileges.
Whether it’s yourself or someone you know, violating a restraining order in New Jersey can be classified as a fourth-degree criminal offense or a disorderly persons offense.
A disorderly persons offense in New Jersey is punishable by:
- Fine: up to $1000
- Incarceration: 6 months in the county jail
- Criminal Record: a conviction will appear on your criminal record
A fourth-degree felony in New Jersey is punishable by:
- Fine:up to $10,000
- Incarceration: up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison
- Probation: an extensive probationary period
- Criminal Record: a felony conviction appearing on your criminal record
In family law matters, when one party knowingly refuses or fails to follow a court order it can result in additional stress, confusion, and possibly fear for one’s safety and wellbeing. If the alleged contempt of court violation is significant, you should seek to remedy this immediately.
If you have concerns or questions about a possible contempt of court case, contact an experienced Ocean County family law attorney for advice.
Contact a Brick, NJ Attorney About Your Contempt of Court Case Today
Punishment for a contempt offense can be significant. So whether you failed to appear in court, behaved inappropriately while in court, or unknowingly violated a court order, you will need a skilled Brick, NJ defense attorney to fight your charges.
If you have been charged with contempt in New Jersey or seek to enforce an existing court order, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, so that you can explore all of your available options. Regardless of how small you think the violation may be, failure to take aggressive action can direly impact your life for years to come.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience helping clients in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities including Seaside Heights, Fort Dix, Keansburg, Howell, Wall, Beachwood, Tinton Falls, and other Jersey Shore communities. Our firm is built on the foundation of strong attorney-client relationships which larger firms simply cannot match.
Seek the counsel of an Experienced Attorney to File a Restraining Order
Domestic violence is a severe issue in New Jersey and around the country.
Particularly in this time of the pandemic, domestic abuse cases have gone up, as couples have been forced into long periods of quarantine together, and job losses have led one partner to take their frustration and fear out on their significant other.
If you are in an abusive partnership, there are ways to get support for a transition out of the relationship. The primary tool is a temporary restraining order. Read on to learn more about obtaining a temporary restraining order (TRO), where to turn for immediate help, and how to formulate an exit plan.
How to Obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in NJ
In New Jersey, a Temporary Restraining Order is the most important piece of legal documentation that a victim of domestic violence can have. This is because it provides physical space, which is the most fundamental necessity in a dynamic of domestic abuse: the safe container within which emotional healing work and transition forward can occur. With a TRO, the abuser is legally not allowed to communicate with or contact you. They are barred from making physical or technological contact with you in any way.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey court system has reduced hours and caseloads. However, given the severity of the issue, most courts are open to receiving in-person applications for TROs. Contact your county’s courthouse to state that you need to file for a TRO and receive information regarding next steps. You can file a TRO in the county in which you live, the county in which the defendant lives, the county in which any act of domestic violence has taken place, or the county in which you will be relocating to seek safety. Alternatively, if you cannot go to the courthouse physically, you can file for a TRO with the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part by calling the court during business hours.
As we know, cases of domestic violence that initiate the need for a TRO don’t always occur while the court is open to receive a request for a restraining order. As such, you can go directly to your local police department or call them to file a request for a TRO 24/7 as well. In this case, a police officer fills out the application for a TRO. At the same time, an on-call municipal court judge is called into a video or phone conference to issue the TRO immediately.
Domestic Violence Supports in New Jersey
Sometimes the most difficult step to exiting an abusive relationship is asking for help. There is no reason to be ashamed if you are a victim of domestic violence. Contact one of the myriad supports that are available to provide you resources and guidance in your safe transition out of the shared space and the relationship:
In New Jersey:
NJ Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 572-SAFE (7233)
Preparing an Exit Plan
When you call a domestic violence hotline, a trained counselor will take your call and provide invaluable information regarding initial steps to take to transition out of an abusive domestic situation, focusing on your safety and covering many bases such as:
- how to financially prepare for an exit from a domestic partnership;
- what to pack in an emergency overnight bag, including important documents;
- how to safely and subtly prepare children for a transition;
- how to ensure that pets are safely transitioned out of the home;
- what phone numbers to have in your cell phone at the ready;
- how to let one confidant know your plans so that you are supported by someone knowing your intentions,
- and what information and documentation to provide them with.
A domestic violence counselor will advise you that, if you have children, it is important not to tell them outright that you are planning to leave home and take them out of it. Instead, you can prepare them for what to do in the case of an emergency, including practicing with them where to go, what their full name and address are (if they are young), and who to call. Because of the complex emotional life of a child and their bond with both parents, speaking only generally with them regarding local contacts in the case of an emergency is essential.
To ensure that you navigate your exit from an unsafe living situation, you must seek the support of a qualified Domestic Violence attorney.
If you have filed a TRO, need to obtain a restraining order, are seeking to leave an abusive relationship and use the law to guarantee your protection, and/or are moving toward divorce, we are on your side.
Attorney Peter J. Bronzino and our firm has a depth of experience representing individuals in divorce, family law, and domestic violence situations in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
Family Law Attorney Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse in Brick and Sea Girt NJ
Serving clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties
Are you in a hurtful and confusing relationship, that forces you to highlight only the happy moments to avoid accepting the bad memories? If so, you might be involved with a narcissistic abuser and it’s vital that you learn more about their behavior when they try to convince you to stay with them.
Which Are The Top Strategies Used By Narcissistic Abusers?
The idealization/devaluation cycle is used by most narcissists. The idealization phase happens while they choose partners who mirror them well and nurture their ego. But once they come to the realization that the person they put way up high on the staircase is just a human being, that is when the devaluation phase starts off with criticism, controlling, and shaming.
Once you make it evident you want to leave, the narcissist will act nice again —but only as nice as it fits their part. Nevertheless, they will resort back to their abusive behavior almost as soon as you come back. If you manage to call out on love-bombing and gaslighting (tactics of manipulation), you will then be able to liberate yourself from any narcissist.
Narcissists will blur their “prey” with theatrical displays of adoration. Elle Magazine recently published an interview with singer FKA Twigs, where she thoroughly described the abusive relationship she had with Shia LaBoeuf and how he would tell her he loved her not too long after the first time they met and literally jumped the fence of her London residence, to bring her flowers and love notes. These are the classic love-bombing strategies that debilitate victims by making them feel unique. The intermittent dopamine rewards typical of love-bombing relationships make them addictive, thus having the abused partner race back in search of another dose of dopamine (a brain chemical that creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivates you to repeat a specific behavior) once they feel devalued. FKA Twigs admitted being drawn back to LaBoeuf after the relationship ended.
LaBoeuf sent her 10 and 20 bunches of flowers every day for 10 days in a row. She would sit down to watch something or work, hear the doorbell ring, and find three more bunches of flowers. The note would always read “More love, more love”. Looking back, she admitted it was a bit excessive and felt awkward, more like seriously aggressive love.
The most effective method to shield yourself from love-bombing is to see situations for what they are: the complete opposite of love. It narrows down to a strategy to pull you in. You will most likely feel devalued if you decide to go back under the narcissist’s domain. Don’t trust fantastic promises and overwhelming displays of affection, instead pay attention to your significant other’s commitment to improving their unhealthy behavior.
How To Recognize Gaslighting?
The concept was borrowed from the classic film “Gaslight”, about a vicious husband who convinces his wife she’s losing her mind because he’s trying to steal her fortune. Narcissists gaslight their victims of choice by discrediting what they believe is real. Their goal is to convince you that you are the one responsible for their poor behavior. Model Sarah McNeilly shared on her Instagram account how she had suffered abuse from her ex-partner, singer Marilyn Manson.
He reportedly threw her against a wall and threatened to smash her face with the baseball bat he was holding, because she attempted to help him choose a pair of pants to wear for a music video. She witnessed him making up problems or hiding missing objects to validate his uncontrollable outbursts. McNeilly also explained that she was scared of leaving him because he had the habit of blackmailing and belittling people.
Losing the ability to think critically is a common trait of gaslighting victims, because of the brainwashing the narcissist works on them. Keeping a log of the narcissist’s behavior and revising it with a therapist or trusted support person is one tool against brainwashing. Narcissists are known to enjoy isolating their victims so they can exercise full control over them. What they focus on is preventing you from getting advice from people who do care about your well-being.
Ending Narcissistic Abuse
Take ownership of your situation by connecting with your support system, learn about these violent behaviors, and plan a safe way out.
Trauma-bonding explained. Having an intense attachment to anyone who chooses to hurt you is far from love, that is trauma-bonding. People who were abused by those who were supposed to keep them safe, end up attracting partners who repeat the abuse as they grow older. The so-called love you feel is probably unreal, but actually, a nervous system response activated by the repetition of trauma happening during childhood.
Share your story. Allow yourself to talk to those who truly support you, instead of only focusing on the narcissist’s opinion. External points of view will help you counteract love-bombing and gaslighting and notice the narcissist’s behavior for the aggression and manipulation it hides.
Choose a safe way out. Narcissists usually escalate their abusive behavior when their prey (partner) tries to walk out of the relationship. Seek for violence support resources to help you design your safety plan to leave as soon as possible.
Contact our Domestic Violence Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one are subject to narcissistic abuse, seek counseling from an experienced Domestic Violence and Family Lawyer to help you weigh your best options to break free from the abuse cycle and outlining the best strategies to safeguard your future, free from any harmful consequences.
At Peter Bronzino, we take pride in successfully representing clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
Contact the Monmouth law offices of Peter Bronzino at 732-812-3102 today, to understand your available options. One of our New Jersey domestic violence attorneys will answer your questions and provide you with a cost-free initial consultation.
Final Order of Protection Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Advising our Family Law clients in Brick, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Spring Lake, Jackson, and Freehold
New Jersey’s state protects domestic violence victims and certain other crime victims with protective orders, commonly known as restraining orders. New Jersey law permits restraining orders as part of the 1982 law known as the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. A restraining order is a court-ordered document that can prohibit one person from contacting or coming within a certain distance of someone else for a set period. A final restraining order imposed by a judge can be vacated or revoked but requires a special process. Otherwise, it could remain in effect for the rest of your life. Violation of a restraining order can be a criminal offense, even when the protected party wants to lift the order and consents to contact. Even in these cases, you could be charged with a criminal offense. A New Jersey restraining order attorney can help construct and submit your appeal.
What Is the Purpose of a Restraining Order?
In New Jersey, the courts use restraining orders to protect domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims from their abusers or assailants. They can also use restraining orders to prevent contact between the parties, provide spousal or child support, and order temporary child custody. Restraining orders are a necessary protection for victims of violence and sexual assault.
But restraining orders can also have severe consequences for the defendant. If a court orders a final restraining order (FRO), the defendant will be fined $500, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a domestic violence registry. New Jersey law also prohibits the defendant from owning or possessing firearms. In some cases, police can remove the defendant from their home. The defendant may lose custody of their children, be ordered to pay spousal and child support, and continue paying a mortgage or rent. If you face a hearing for a restraining order, it’s essential to contact an experienced New Jersey criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Why Should I Appeal a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders can have strict consequences in New Jersey. The court may remove you from the home you share with the plaintiff and prevent you from contacting the plaintiff or any children you share. You could lose custody of your children, and the court could order you to pay spousal and child support. The court could also order you to continue paying the rent or mortgage in a home you do not occupy. Additionally, the court will fine you $500 and order you to be fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a domestic violence registry.
If you violate a restraining order, it is a criminal offense and considered criminal contempt of a court order. Any allegation of violating a restraining order mandates an arrest. The violation can be inadvertent or be as small as a text or email to the victim. A second violation will result in a mandatory 30 days in jail. If you face a restraining order hearing, it’s essential to contact an experienced New Jersey criminal attorney as soon as possible.
What Is the Process For an Appeal?
You cannot appeal a temporary restraining order (TRO). A judge typically enters a TRO without notice to the defendant, and the order is only good until the hearing for the final restraining order (FRO). The hearing for the FRO is typically within ten days of entry of the TRO. At the hearing for the FRO, both parties will have the opportunity to tell their story and present evidence and witnesses to the court.
Once a judge has issued a final restraining order against you, you have a limited time in which to file your appeal. That time to file your appeal is limited to 45 days after its imposition. In the appeal, you will be required to allege that errors made during the trial warrant a reversal of the final restraining order’s imposition.
The error must relate to the facts, evidence, or law to be a valid basis for your appeal. Grounds for reversal may include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- The judge incorrectly interpreted or applied the law: If the judge misapplied or incorrectly interpreted New Jersey law, that mistake can be grounds for a successful appeal. Judges are required to do their job correctly, and when they do not, you should not be punished for it.
- The judge misinterpreted the facts: Judges are also expected to correctly analyze and apply the facts of the case to New Jersey law. Judges commonly misremember testimony or flat-out get things wrong. When they do, it could be the basis for a successful appeal of your final restraining order.
- The judge misapplied the rules of evidence: Specific rules are in force regarding what evidence the court may consider when deciding on the final restraining order. When the court gets it wrong, the final restraining order may not be valid.
- The judge’s findings were not complete: The opinion the judge sets forth must state in detail the ground for the restraining order, including the prior history of domestic violence, the predicate act, and that a restraining order was necessary to protect the well-being and safety of the plaintiff. Failure to state any or all of these is grounds for the reversal of the final restraining order.
If you are considering filing for divorce or know of someone, all your rights must be protected. You need someone in your corner to support you doing this difficult time.
Contact a Domestic Violence Lawyer Today to Protect Your Rights
At Bronzino Law Firm, we successfully represent clients in Brick, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Spring Lake, Jackson, and Freehold. Whether you have yet to decide your next steps fully or are ready to move forward immediately, our knowledgeable team of attorneys is only a phone call away.
Contact our Brick office by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.
Domestic Violence Victims and Alimony/Spousal Support Brick and Sea Girt NJ Attorneys
If you or someone else has experienced domestic violence at the hands of a spouse or significant other, we will move quickly to protect you.
Until recently, California was the only state that affirmatively enacted legislation disqualifying alimony and spousal payments from domestic violence survivors to their abusers. While some courts either leave marital misconduct to the court’s discretion or prohibit considering evidence related to it, the New Jersey legislature has taken bold steps to prevent survivors from financing their own abuse.
Though normally used for contract law, more legislature and family courts have invoked the doctrine of unconscionability to restrict the enforcement of harsh and unreasonably one-sided agreements or contracts. Today members of New Jersey’s judiciary use this doctrine to deny enforcing divorce settlements that would require survivors of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to pay alimony and spousal support to their convicted domestic violence abusers because such payments represent a continuation of abuse and control.
If you or someone else has experienced domestic violence at the hands of a spouse or significant other, we will move quickly to protect you. The Prevention of Violence Act was formulated to protect the victims of abuse within domestic relationships. The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC has represented numerous clients in cases involving domestic abuse, and our domestic violence attorneys will guide you through the process of getting a temporary restraining order (TRO). We will accompany you to the domestic violence hearing, which typically occurs within a week of the temporary restraining order’s issuance. We will argue on your behalf to obtain a more permanent order of protection or final restraining order (FRO).
Analyzing Alimony Provisions in NJ Divorce Settlements to Prohibit Payments from Survivors to Abusers
Spousal support or alimony is a challenging and often contentious issue in any divorce. When the obligation is to pay support to a former abusive spouse in a reasonably comparable manner to which they grew accustomed during the marriage, this unreasonable benefit to one party and the absence of meaningful choice can make these payments unconscionable.
Early proposals to change NJ alimony statutes, specifically Assembly Bill A399, regarding the alimony maintenance statute N.J.S.2A:34-23, unfortunately, did not pass. Luckily, under the 2014 amendments to the alimony statute, N.J.S.A.2A:34-23(i), NJ Family Courts have the ability to deny alimony to an abusive spouse because:
“No person convicted of Murder, N.J.S.2C:11-3; Manslaughter, N.J.S.2C:11-4; Criminal Homicide, N.J.S.2C:11-2; Aggravated Assault, under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:12- 1; or a substantially similar offense under the laws of another jurisdiction, may receive alimony if: (1) the crime results in death or serious bodily injury, as defined in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:11-1, to a family member of a divorcing party; and (2) the crime was committed after the marriage or civil union. A person convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to commit murder may not receive alimony from the person who was the intended victim of the attempt or conspiracy. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of the court to deny alimony for other bad acts.”
NJ family court judges are given broad discretion in weighing each factor when making their alimony decision. The latter emphasized the judge can interpret the section to mean that a criminal act of domestic violence should result in a mandatory forfeiture of alimony rights.
With discretion and determined advocacy, an experienced Ocean County alimony attorney is essential when negotiating your alimony settlement or even terminating an existing alimony agreement. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and help you incorporate this argument into your legal strategy.
Contact a Wall Township, NJ Domestic Violence and Alimony Attorney Today
If you think about settling your alimony issues without legal representation, especially those where domestic abuse is involved, think again. Alimony is required to be paid for several years equal to your marriage duration, so if you were married for ten years, you would most likely be expected to pay alimony for ten years. Such a life-impacting agreement should never be made without an attorney by your side to protect your rights and your financial future.
Attorney Peter J. Bronzino has received countless favorable reviews from past clients; their words speak for themselves. If you are looking for an experienced, knowledgeable, hard-working, and tenacious alimony attorney, look no further. The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC is ready to begin advising you and fighting for your rights today.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation with our offices today, contact us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102. We also handle modifications of existing alimony agreements, as well as enforcement of alimony when your ex is not complying with the agreed-upon terms.
Domestic Violence and COVID-19 Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
At the height of the first surge of Covid-19 in April, the New York Times reported that the rate of domestic violence around the world was rising, triggered by economic stress and increased isolation.
In a pandemic, the facets of domestic abuse are the same as at any other time: the perpetrator enforces isolation from family and friends, practices constant surveillance, dictates increasingly impossible standards of acceptable behavior, and limits access to necessities like food and clothing.
Lockdowns during the pandemic feed into these controlling behaviors because surveillance and control are easier to do in close quarters. In the pandemic, victims of domestic violence may have increasingly found that access to help in the form of friends and family, or the police and the courts, was reduced or completely cut off.
Two investigators were concerned that the same thing might be happening in New Jersey. They researched how such factors as home confinement and court closures have impacted domestic violence rates in this state.
They found that victims have faced intensified difficulties over the past several months. When they studied arrest data from the Newark Department of Public Safety and restraining data provided by the New Jersey Superior Court, they discovered that:
- Calls to police about domestic violence dropped statewide right after the lockdown began. Experts believe the sudden drop in police calls was a key sign that unreported domestic violence was rising. Victims may not have had enough privacy to call for help, did not know how to access help because of court closures, or had difficulty leaving home or knowing whether shelters were open.
- Arrests began to increase in late March of this year through July 2020. The Newark Department of Public Safety, in its own analysis, reported 188 domestic violence incidents from the end of March through April, an 18% increase over the same period in 2019.
- There was a relatively low number of applications statewide for temporary restraining orders (TROs) in March and April. At that time, most TROs were issued by the police, and very few were issued by the courts because courts were closed. Victims may not have known where to go or were reluctant or unable to go to their local police station. As courts reopened, the number of TRO requests rapidly increased. Compared to pre-March levels, total TRO requests rose sharply from late July to mid-September.
These findings are a serious wake-up call.
Domestic Violence Usually Gets Worse
With the pandemic rising and continuing into the winter, families face heightened stress in possible renewed lockdown measures.
There is help available. You can get a restraining order even when courts are closed. Victims also need to know that shelters and agencies are open, even if they’re working within the constraints of social distancing.
Call us today with your Domestic Violence related issues in NJ
Do you, or someone you love and care about, need help with domestic violence but aren’t sure how to access help?
This link will provide you with the NJ Domestic Violence Hotline
You can also talk with one of our attorneys, by video conference or phone call, to learn about the legal options you have that will help you be safe. These include filing for a TRO, filing for child support or spousal support for the abused partner, emergency custody of children, and how to file for divorce.
Final Restraining Order Appeals Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
NJ Appellate Division Reversal of a Final Restraining Order (FRO) Reaffirms Legal Guidelines of Who May Obtain Domestic Violence Protective Orders
New Jersey’s strict domestic violence laws and tools like restraining orders were developed to protect the health and safety of the accuser and any potential minor children that may be part of the relationship by preventing the accused from visiting commonplaces of contact such as a home or school and preventing other forms of contact such as telephone calls and emails. These temporary restraining orders (TRO’s) can even prevent the person who was served from contacting other parties, such as friends or family members who may know that person.
Because TROs are not permanent, they can be modified, dismissed, or contested by the opposing party at a final hearing before a Final Restraining Order is issued. This can be beneficial for the accused, as not all domestic violence calls to police are the true result of abuse. It could either be a misunderstanding perceived as harassment or a false accusation.
In the recent case of M.H. v. J.B., two sisters-in-laws each obtained Temporary Restraining Orders against the other, alleging harassment after a series of text messages were exchanged between them. Although a FRO was issued in favor of one party,
the Appellate Division reversed the entry of the FRO because none of the requirements were met:
- a relationship within the meaning of the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act (“PDVA”)
- a finding that an act of domestic violence occurred as listed within the PDVA
- A restraining order is necessary to protect the victim “from an immediate danger or prevent further abuse.”
Have you been served with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) by a partner or family member? A false accusation must be handled with an experienced criminal defense attorney’s expert support to avoid a variety of potential outcomes. The charge of domestic violence comes with steep costs, including a criminal record, potential time behind bars, and a ruined reputation that can wreak havoc in your personal, educational, and professional life.
While restraining orders are an important tool for protecting victims, they are also commonly abused in difficult family situations. They can seriously jeopardize the parental and legal rights of an unjustly accused individual.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience handling restraining order cases of all kinds. Whether you are the victim of violence and abuse and in need of legal protection, or have been wrongly accused of abuse and need to protect your rights, our firm is ready to provide you with personal, attentive, and effective legal service throughout the restraining order process.
Importance of Appealing or Vacating a Final Restraining Order in New Jersey
In most cases, a Final Restraining Order (FRO) issued under the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) does not expire. Although a victim can later request a dismissal or the defendant can request through the appeal that it be vacated, if neither party takes any action, the FRO could last until either party dies.
If a FRO has been entered either to protect you or against you or if one’s entry is pending, it’s important to understand the consequences. Our recent article “What needs to be proven to obtain a Final Restraining Order (FRO)?” details how important it is to understand what it would take to dismiss or vacate such an order and how having a skilled attorney to protect your rights can make the difference between freedom and limitations to one’s employment, educational, housing, child custody status.
By necessity, domestic violence cases move fast. Whether you are a victim in need of protection or found yourself on the wrong side of domestic violence allegations, you need an attorney who can keep pace. At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC in Ocean County, New Jersey, we take immediate domestic violence and harassment cases.
Consult an Ocean County Restraining Order Lawyer Today
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our teams of experienced attorneys are skilled in serving our clients across Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all domestic and criminal law matters.
Whether you are the victim of domestic violence and abuse or you have been wrongly served with a Temporary Restraining Order, our firm is ready to protect your rights and future. Our smaller-sized firm allows us to develop personal and attentive relationships with our clients and provide them with experienced, effective, and tenacious legal counsel.
To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced member of our firm today regarding your case, please visit our online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Domestic Violence Act, Household Members, and Blended Family Attorneys Brick NJ
As times change, with divorce rates at an all-time high, families are much more complicated than ever.
When individuals remarry and create a “blended family” with stepparents, stepsiblings, and half-siblings, laws regarding domestic living and discord require closer scrutiny and, in some circumstances, change. Recently, the definition of a “household member” in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PVDA) was expanded to include family members who do not necessarily share a domicile.
“Household members” are the people who live in the house, right?
That isn’t exactly true. The definition of “household member” related to who can meet the definition to be considered a “victim” under the PVDA to obtain a restraining order has been expanded. New Jersey courts have continued to stretch the circumstances under which the PDVA can be utilized.
A recent decision from the Honorable Gregory L. Acquaviva, J.S.C. in Monmouth County in S.C v. J.D, the family court addressed the definition of a “household member” in the context of a modern, blended family. In this case, the parties were half-siblings who did not reside together but spent regular time together as part of their blended family.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act requires that certain relationships exist before the statute can apply to them. Relevant here, “victim of domestic violence” is defined as: “any person who is 18 years of age or older . . . who has been subjected to domestic violence by . . . any other person who is a present household member or was at any time a household member.” N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d). The PVDA does not define “household.”
What have the Courts said about this issue?
Before the 2015 amendments, a “victim of domestic violence” included “any . . . person who is a present or former household member.” The Appellate Division reversed the entry of a final restraining order between middle-aged brothers who had not lived together in two decades. In 2012, the Appellate Division revisited the definition of a “household member.” According to the court, the analysis shifted from the amount of time that elapsed since the parties resided together to evaluate whether the current conflict arose from a prior domestic relationship. The sibling parties had stopped residing together in 1960. There was no contact between the estranged siblings for 19 years. However, despite the lengthy time apart and “sporadic episodes of intense strife” among them, because the defendant’s behavior was “a direct outgrowth of the parties’ earlier household relationship,” the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s finding of jurisdiction to apply the PDVA.
Another relevant case is Storch v. Sauerhoff, where the family court held that an adult stepdaughter lived on the same block as her stepmother, but who had not lived under her stepmother’s roof for more than twenty years, was a “former household member.” In holding that “step” relationships may satisfy the “household member” requirement under the PDVA, the court rejected a literal reading of the PDVA, instead of applying a common-sense interpretation that recognized familial, emotional, and financial ties.
What were the findings in this latest Court decision?
To determine what the term “household” means in terms of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, Judge Acquaviva in S.C. v. J.D. also drew upon the interpretations of the same from insurance policy cases, in which courts have found that “residence under a single roof is not a touchstone, and the meaning of ‘household’ inherently must vary depending on the circumstances.” A “substantially integrated family relationship” is a “household,” even where the household members are not continually under the same roof. The trial court found that “this flexible approach to defining “household” should similarly be implemented as a baseline in the PDVA context as “public policy concerns demand that the term ‘household member’ be defined even more expansively in domestic violence cases than in insurance . . . .”
Defining an Integrated, Modern, Blended Family
The trial court found that S.C. v. J.D.’s facts demonstrated an integrated, modern, blended family. The defendant resided at his own mother’s home but spent meaningful, regular periods of time at his father’s home, which was the home of his half-sibling. That time included: regular bi-monthly weekend, overnight parenting time; extended and more frequent overnight parenting time during the summer; and extended vacation and regular camping trips. In modern parlance, his father was the parent of alternate residence and exerted meaningful, standard parenting time at his home – with the Plaintiff uniformly present.
“Household Member” Requirements in NJ Family Court
Given the facts of S.C. v. J.D., the family court explained that according to the PDVA, for purposes of the jurisdictional “household member” requirement, includes:
“A child whose parents are separated during youth but who spends meaningful, regular periods of time at a parent of alternate residence’s home such that he or she is substantially integrated into that ‘household’ may simultaneously have two households creating jurisdiction vis-à-vis a victimized half-sibling who resided solely with the shared parent. ‘Household member’ as used in the PDVA’s definition of ‘victim of domestic violence’ must be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the ever-changing dynamics of modern families. To restrict a child whose parents are separated to only one household despite meaningful, regular time in a second household would alter the statutory construct, discriminate against members of blended families, and unduly restrict the broadly designed, legislatively crafted protections afforded victims of domestic violence.”
In other words, the half-sibling/defendant who resided with the mother and visited the father regularly, where he was in contact with the accused, was considered a “household member.” The importance of this is the victim’s ability to press charges under the PVDA.
Who else is considered a “household member”?
The courts have exerted “household member” jurisdiction in various circumstances, including roommates, tenants, cohabitants, college suitemates, and de facto family members who spend a lot of time with members of the family.
Contact our skilled Domestic Violence Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County Today.
Domestic violence is an unfortunate and sad reality that occurs in many households. Should you find yourself needing legal support regarding domestic violence, we are here to orient your legal decisions. Our expert legal team will tailor a plan that meets your unique needs. At the Bronzino Law Firm, we take pride in having successfully represented clients across New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth counties.