Category: Restraining Orders
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 the entry of one 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 all of 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 complex than they have ever been.
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” as it relates to who can meet the definition to be considered a “victim” under the PVDA in order 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 the matter of 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 who 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?
Prior to 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 an evaluation of 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 who 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?
In order 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 the facts of S.C. v. J.D. demonstrated an integrated, modern, blended family, in which 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, regular parenting time at his home – with the Plaintiff uniformly present.
“Household Member” Requirements in NJ Family Court
In view of the facts of S.C. v. J.D., the family court explained that pursuant to the PDVA that, 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 in need of 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.
Unprecedented Family Law Cases Backlog and the Potential Benefits of ADR
Now more than ever, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, collaboration, and arbitration can be considered viable and effective ways of quickly and inexpensively resolving family law issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic which forced municipal courts in areas like Ocean and Monmouth Counties to either reduce services or close for months has created an unprecedented backlog in both family law and divorce cases. For couples eager to unite the knot and move on with their lives, or those trying to manage the child custody challenges of quarantine or post-divorce parenting while dealing with child support issues, alimony post-judgment modification issues, and other family law related matters, it may be time to start seriously considering alternatives which will give you peace of mind and provide solutions which benefit all family members or parties involved.
Now more than ever, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, collaboration, and arbitration can be considered viable and effective ways of quickly and inexpensively resolving family law issues.
Any time you seek to resolve the life-changing and complex issues that come with a divorce or the dissolution a civil union, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney in order to better understand your rights and options, and protect you and your family’s legal and financial futures.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys have extensive experience acting as independent legal counsel for clients in Monmouth County, Ocean County, and across the Jersey Shore. Our firm is dedicated to providing highly attentive and effective family law counsel in all manner of situations, including arbitration, mediation, collaboration, negotiation, and litigation.
Benefits of Using Alternative Dispute Resolution To Avoid NJ Court Backlog
Mediation and arbitration are often considered quick and favorable methods for parents or couples to resolve their divorce, marital asset division, alimony, child support, and child custody, and parenting time matters.
A mediator can help facilitate the process of coming to custodial arrangements and New Jersey-mandated parenting time schedules, that will eventually be finalized by the Superior Court: Family Part. During mediation, your lawyer’s role is more to advise you on what types of settlements are fair to you, whether or not they believe your spouse is trying to hide or obscure financial information from the mediation process, and what the long-term implications of any potential settlement are to you, your children, and your family as a whole.
In the case of arbitration, arbitrators are typically retired judges or experienced family law attorneys, so the results of arbitration are generally in line with what can be expected in family court. Selecting the most appropriate arbitrator, who has the relevant experience and knowledge to thoughtfully, thoroughly, and realistically decide the issues in your case, is critical. Because the arbitrator’s decision will generally be binding, each party should feel confident about their selection and agree to an appeal process, should it later prove necessary.
Another ADR method is collaborative divorce, whereby the couple chooses two separate attorneys who agree to represent them individually without moving forward with litigation in court, in a team effort to reach the best resolution for the family.
The attorneys involved in the collaborative divorce agree to withdraw from the case and terminate the representation if the matter is not able to be resolved successfully so that the couple will need to hire different attorneys if they proceed with litigation. Because an essential part of the agreement is to remain in the collaborative process, there is often a mental health professional and a financial expert who help guide both parties towards a resolution that is best for the entire family.
Like both mediation and arbitration, collaborative divorce can help achieve an equitable outcome that is positive for both spouses or partners because they:
- considers the children’s best interests
- maintains privacy
- seeks to preserve family assets
- provides parties with closure to move on
Your parental and financial rights and standings are being decided, often for years to come, and the money you think you “save” by not retaining legal counsel, is often lost to poorly designed financial agreements, appeals, and post-divorce modifications.
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC we have extensive experience helping our clients to reach fair, situation-specific, and well-thought-out divorce and family law agreements in Ocean and Monmouth County towns such as Wall, Jackson, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Asbury Park, and the surrounding communities.
Contact a Wall Township, NJ Divorce Lawyer to Discuss Alternative Dispute Resolutions to Reach a Positive Agreement between Parties
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our divorce attorneys are experienced in providing our clients with the necessary support to ensure a fair family law settlement, so they can move on with their lives from a place of calm and quality.
If you would like to schedule a free confidential consultation with a member of our team today regarding mediation, a family law issue you may be facing, or some facet of your divorce process, please fill out the online form or call our Brick or Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
“Dating” Relationships and Domestic Violence Attorney in Brick and Sea Girt NJ
A recent New Jersey appellate court judgment clarified the meaning of a “dating” relationship as it relates to domestic violence
According to the New Jersey Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act, a person can get a final restraining order placed against someone that has committed domestic violence. Domestic violence can be committed against someone with whom one is in a relationship – this means married, dating, sharing a child, or living together. This Act considers the following actions to be domestic violence, punishable by law:
- Assault – inflicting harm or having any unwanted physical contact with a person, or threatening to do harm or touch
- Criminal restraint – holding a person against their will
- Sexual assault – includes insistence, unwanted comments regarding sex, abusive sexual or reputational threats (this carries its own charge, but can also be charged as an act of domestic violence)
- Criminal sexual contact – forcing a person to have sexual contact against their will
- Stalking – following someone without their will, including in person, via messages or phone calls, or other types of presence and contact
- Harassment – repeatedly communicating with someone without their permission, in order to force action or to cause stress
- Cyber harassment – similar to harassment, cyber harassment is repeated communication or presence online and can include actions that cause harm to someone’s emotional wellbeing or defame their character
- Threats – saying that you will cause physical or other harm to someone, regardless of whether the threat is carried out
- Burglary – entering someone’s property without their express permission
- Robbery – removing someone’s property without their permission
- Kidnapping – removing someone from their setting without their permission (this carries its own charge, but can also be charged as an act of domestic violence)
- False imprisonment – detaining a person against their will, either overtly or subtly, as is the case in gaslighting
- Lewdness – showing one’s private parts to another without their permission
- Criminal mischief – damaging another’s property
- Contempt of a restraining order – approaching someone who has a temporary or final restraining order against you
- Crimes involving risk – any act that could pose a threat to the physical safety or life of a person protected under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991
- Homicide – killing someone who falls in the category of partner, ex-partner, parent of your child, or someone with whom you live (this carries its own charge, but can also be charged as an act of domestic violence)
How can we define Dating when it comes to Domestic Violence?
A recent New Jersey appellate court judgment clarified the meaning of a “dating” relationship as it relates to domestic violence due to the growing grey area of “dating” in this day and age. In the case that led to this precedential definition of the term “dating” in domestic violence accounts, a New Jersey couple spent a period of one month exchanging flirtatious and sometimes sexually suggestive messages; however, according to both parties, they did not go on a traditional date. Because of this fact, the defendant argued that the plaintiff could not file for a Final Restraining Order (FRO) because they were not technically dating. The trial judge turned to Andrews v. Rutherford, 363 N.J. Super. 252, 260 (Ch. Div. 2003) when determining whether the couple had in fact been in a “dating relationship” that would have made a FRO possible under domestic violence law. According to the findings of Andrews v. Rutherford, a court must use the following considerations to determine whether a relationship is “dating” under the New Jersey Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act
- Was there enough interpersonal bonding between the parties that the relationship could be considered more than simple friendship?
- For how long was a relationship of communication and activities sustained prior to the incident of alleged domestic violence in question?
- What types of activities did the parties engage in?
- What did each party expect of the relationship?
- Did the parties affirm their relationship in front of witnesses?
- Is there any additional information that determines whether the relationship was or was not a romantic one?
The court found that the parties were, in fact, in a “dating” relationship, though they had not been out on a date, due to the extent of communications they had had, as well as their content. This precedent set by the court reflects a new era of domestic violence protections in a time in which technology has shifted the nature of the relationship, and the potentials for domestic violence to occur have broadened in scope.
Brick Domestic Violence Attorney Help You Navigate through your Case
At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all domestic violence cases.
Domestic Violence Appeals Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Though not a common occurrence, errors by judges overseeing Domestic Violence trials do occur. Such a mistake recently resulted in an appellate court overturning the Superior Court: Family Part ruling in a domestic violence case.
The importance of having a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney can’t be overstated. The minute details that go into the argument of a trial and the expertise required to note the strategies and errors of the opposing party’s attorney and even the court can mean the difference between a trial won and a trial lost – or an opportunity for appeal missed.
Appeal of Final Restraining Order Issuance in NJ
In February 2020, an appeal was submitted contesting a ruling from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County. The Superior Court had issued a Final Restraining Order (FRO) against defendant L.F. in protection of her son, J.F. The FRO was a progression of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that had been in place.
In the Superior Court case, the son, J.F., presented testimony that his mother had followed his wife when she left her house, and that his mother had stationed her car outside of their house for many hours at a time on various occasions. This testimony lent itself toward a ruling for the issuance of a FRO.
However, proper court procedure was not followed by the judge. In fact, there were multiple failures by the judge to adhere to procedural justice. For example, the judge did not inform either party of their legal right to cross-examine the opposing party. Cross-examination is considered “the ‘greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth,’” a statement made famous in California v. Green, 399 U.S. 149, 158 (1970). This absence of essential process in itself warranted reversal of the lower court’s ruling and remand of a new Superior Court trial.
Additionally, the court did not ask the defendant if she had any questions for the plaintiff. After the ruling was made, the defendant was asked if she had any questions about the ruling, and she attempted to add evidence and speak to her son’s criminal record:
The Court: Do you have any questions, [L.F.]?
L.F.: I have the letter for my co-worker. I know the decision [to issue a FRO] is made. I can’t do anything. But, who has the criminal record here is him. Not me. After 2014 I —
The Court: The Court has accepted —
L.F.: I never followed his wife.
Given that she had not been given an opportunity to enter this evidence before the ruling was made, as well as speak to her son’s record and therefore a potential lack of credibility, she was denied due process under New Jersey law. All defendants have the right to exhaust all questions and enter all defense before a ruling is made.
It is often the case that in a Superior Court trial, the judge has some management to do, and therefore may take procedure a bit into their own hands. As the appellate judge noted in Franklin v. Sloskey, “[w]e understand that in a pro se trial a judge often has to focus the testimony and take over the questioning of the parties and witnesses. This should be done in an orderly and predictable fashion, however, and not at the expense of the parties’ due process rights.” 385 N.J. Super. 534, 543 (App. Div. 2006)
New Jersey Appellate Court Reverses FRO as a Result of Procedural Errors
As a result of the procedural errors of the Superior Court judge, the New Jersey Appellate Court reversed the FRO and returned to its prior state, a TRO. The Appellate Court remanded the case to the Superior Court level and directed that a different judge carry out the retrial. In this way, the Appellate Court ensured that the defendant had a fair chance at justice, whether or not the outcome would be different.
The Appeals Courts of New Jersey and the United States are established to ensure that justice has been served at all levels and stages of the trial process. Of course, it is essential to have the support of a quality lawyer working on your behalf, yet the Court itself is responsible for ensuring that your legal rights are clarified and carried out, whether you are the defendant or the plaintiff.
Wall Township Restraining Order Appeals Lawyer Help You Navigate the Process and Protect Your Rights
At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys support clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all criminal law matters.
Brick Family Lawyers Promote Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Educating Clients in towns throughout Ocean County towns such as Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey
What began in October 1981 as a “Day of Unity,” to end violence against women and children, is now a month-long event, during which advocacy groups promote local resources, conduct education campaigns, and raise awareness through understanding and knowledge of intervention strategies.
Something to keep in mind this and other months is that one of the most critical aspects to help and support victims of domestic violence is to not be afraid to speak to them or ask if they need help when one observes the signs of domestic violence.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) says:
- Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking
- In 2018, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received more than half a million calls, texts and online chats – its busiest year to date
- According to the hotline (which has provided 24-hour, year-round support since 1996), the 573,670 calls and other communications in 2018 were a 36 percent increase from 2017. Of these callers:
- 88% said they were experiencing some sort of emotional and verbal abuse;
- 60% said they were the victims of physical abuse;
- 24% said they were subject to financial abuse, such as their partners stealing money or limiting access to money;
- 5% reported digital abuse, which includes GPS stalking, relentless texting, and unauthorized home surveillance; and
- 11% said they were experiencing sexual abuse
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%
- Intimate partner violence (IPV) accounts for 15% of all violent crime
- A CDC and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program stated that 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence
- Adverse outcomes that result from exposure to intimate partner violence in childhood include an increased risk of psychological, social, emotional and behavioral problems, mood and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse and school-related problems in children and adolescents
The Impact of Fear in Domestic Violence Cases
Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender, socioeconomic backgrounds, and education levels. Because it occurs in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships, among intimate partners who are married or living together, or have a child in common, or are dating, the cyclical nature of abusive behavior by one partner against another, often means that the decision to leave or call the police may be impractical or not even feasible.
On a personal level, domestic violence can wreak havoc on one’s life, sense of security and well-being. It is a frighteningly common issue and legally complex. Many victims fear reprisal or have been told that if they leave or seek help from law enforcement, the aggressor may take even more extreme action (i.e., hurt or kill the victim or someone close to the victim, take custody of their children, withhold financial means, etc).
Since the victim may be reliant on the aggressor to pay a household or other related expenses – this emotional dependency, verbal, financial, and sexual abuse, in addition to fear, often prevents victims from leaving sooner, because they feel trapped.
How Does the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act Protect Victims of Abuse?
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, (PDVA) recognizes “domestic violence is a serious crime against society” and as a cycle of violence that can be difficult to break. The law contains both civil and criminal remedies. Victims may file a civil complaint to obtain a civil restraining order through municipal or Family courts, and mandatory arrests involve the criminal justice system when a criminal complaint is filed.
Both complaints should be filed for your protection and have serious consequences for violators. The civil complaint is designed to protect you and the criminal complaint is designed to punish the abuser. The criminal charges against the abuser can result in jail, fines and other penalties. Especially in matters of domestic violence and child custody, a permanent or final restraining order (FRO) can be sought that will protect you and your family from your abuser for a more extended period of time. A FRO can also make it nearly impossible (for obvious reasons) for the abuser to locate you and the court has the discretion to make decisions with regard to custody, parenting time, child support, alimony and counsel fees.
If you were severely injured, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against your abuser to cover medical bills and compensate you for pain and suffering. Most of all, our experienced domestic violence attorneys will make sure you will never be hurt again by your attacker.
What is the Role of An Attorney in Domestic Violence Cases?
The attorneys of Bronzino Law Firm, LLC work quickly and fight hard to make sure you and your family are safe. We can be invaluable in domestic violence situations, by communicating and advocating in the courts on behalf of you and your family. Our experienced attorneys can also present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and conduct the hearing within the rules and procedures of the court. We know court can be a scary experience, and we take on the burden and capitalize on our own experience when representing you. If you are involved in a domestic dispute, protect your rights and contact our office today.
Consult a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Ocean County Today
Experienced Bronzino Law Firm, LLC attorneys will be ready to assist you in Domestic Violence-related issues. Don´t hesitate to reach out to us and learn more about this topic and protect yourself and the ones you love.
Child Abuse Attorneys in Ocean and Monmouth County New Jersey Courts
Serving clients throughout Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey
According to NJ Rev Stat § 9:6-8.21 (2013), child abuse is the non-accidental physical, mental or emotional injury, sexual abuse, or negligent treatment of a child by a person responsible for a child’s welfare. This means that a parent or caregiver (of a child under 18 years of age) acts or fails to act in such a way that causes:
- physical injury
- risk of death or disfigurement
- impairment of emotional or physical health
- inappropriate sexual contact or content
- neglect and/or
This may also include failing to supply adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical or surgical care though the caregiver may be financially able, and cases of neglect.
Minimum Degree of Care
NJ Statute NJSA 9:6-8.9 defines a neglected child as a child whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result of the failure of his/her parent or guardian to exercise a minimum degree of care. Examples of this are: willfully failing to provide proper and sufficient food, supervision, clothing, maintenance, regular school education as required by law, medical attendance or surgical treatment, and a clean and proper home although though one is financially able.
NJ gets 78,000 child-abuse calls a year, and it’s trending upward
A recent article stated that over the past 4 years, the number of calls to New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families’ child abuse hotline has been rising steadily. Despite this disturbing trend, and even though the primary sources of child abuse referrals in New Jersey are from schools, hospitals, and law enforcement, not all calls result in investigations.
New Jersey is home to close to 2 million children and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure they are safe from abuse. Child abuse occurs in all kinds of families, regardless of race, ethnic background, socio-economic status, or religious beliefs. The most common perpetrators of child abuse are mothers, fathers, relatives, babysitters, and non-related household members. The actual statistics related to child abuse are often considered underestimates due to a failure of diagnosis by medical personnel or underreporting of the problem.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Child Abuse or It Has Been Reported to You
New Jersey State Law, requires that any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse, or neglect should immediately (i.e., “right now”) report this information to the State Central Registry (SCR). If the child is in imminent danger of abuse or neglect, you are required by law to call 911 as well as the Child Abuse Hotline 1-877 NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873). As a concerned caller, you do not have to be sure or have proof that abuse has taken place to contact the Child Abuse Hotline. Once a report highlights that there is a risk to a child an investigation will be carried out by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency who will investigate the allegations of abuse within 24 hours.
Having reasonable suspicion is enough to trigger a report. Any person who, in good faith, makes a report of child abuse or neglect or testifies in a child abuse hearing resulting from such a report is immune from any related criminal or civil liability as a result of such action.
Contact a Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Lawyer in Ocean County Today
Child abuse and domestic violence lawyer Peter J. Bronzino, Esq. has extensive experience serving clients in sensitive criminal family matters throughout Ocean County towns such as Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey. Our firm believes in keeping clients informed and involved throughout the legal process so that we can deliver uniquely personalized legal solutions. If you are looking for an attorney who will passionately and aggressively defend your legal rights as a victim of abuse or other legal proceedings, look no further.
Experienced Bronzino Law Firm, LLC attorneys can enlist the help of physicians, mental health experts and psychologists to build the most compelling case in order to provide an effective defense for you.
Contact us online or through our Brick, NJ offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your legal concerns and the role that a history of abuse has had on you and your family.
Simple Assault, Domestic Violence, and Restraining Order Lawyer Brick NJ
Providing expert counsel regarding Domestic Violence & Restraining Orders across Spring Lake, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Brick, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas
Although simple assault may be one of the most common “misdemeanor” offenses a person can be charged within Ocean or Monmouth County, it is a very serious criminal charge in New Jersey. As a disorderly persons offense, assault charges can arise from minor altercations or as a result of a domestic violence incident. Assault is a violent crime and criminal conviction can significantly affect employment or educational opportunities, your reputation, and possibly result in a fine or restraining order, not to mention negatively impact child custody matters in divorce litigation. Unlike many criminal offenses in New Jersey, you can be charged with simple assault even though the assault was unintended, and you can be found guilty even if there was no injury to the other party.
What Constitutes Simple Assault in Jackson, NJ?
N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 or “simple assault” can be triggered as the result of purposeful, knowing, reckless or negligent conduct, even if the person was unsuccessful in their attempt to commit the offense and the other party was not injured. The assault may cause temporary pain or discomfort or present a physical threat, and ANY unwanted or offensive physical contact can also be considered assault.
Simple Assault as an Act of Domestic Violence in Wall Township, NJ
If the simple assault is against a current or former spouse, household member, family member, co-parent, or intimate partner it can be considered as “domestic violence.” New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is a means of protecting victims of domestic abuse. To be charged with a domestic violence criminal offense or issued a temporary restraining order in New Jersey, one must be accused of committing one of the 19 predicate acts of domestic violence (e.g., simple assault, harassment, terroristic threats, etc).
As the more common charge used as the grounds for a protective order, a person is guilty of simple assault or N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) if they:
(1) Attempt to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
(2) Negligently causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
(3) Attempt by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Under these conditions in NJ, even an attempt to cause bodily injury and/or threatening behavior that would make someone believe they are in immediate danger of suffering serious harm is considered a simple assault. So when one considers the type of language used to define “simple assault” it’s clear to see how people can face restraining orders with simple assault as the basis.
Though vastly different from aggravated assault, the seriousness of a simple assault charge or subsequent conviction, can nevertheless have devastating consequences on your life. Especially since a domestic violence finding during a criminal background check has the potential to disqualify you from many jobs or educational opportunities.
What is the Punishment for Simple Assault & Domestic Violence in Sea Brick or Girt, NJ?
Simple assault is typically considered a disorderly persons offense.
- Disorderly Persons Offense: maximum sentence of 6 months to be served in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- Petty Disorderly Persons Offense: maximum sentence of 30 days to be served in the county jail and a fine of up to $500
Victims of a simple assault or domestic violence can request a temporary restraining order (TRO) and subsequent to that a final restraining order (FRO). Since Family Court related protective orders have a lower burden of proof than criminal courts, a final restraining order issued against you based on a simple assault accusation, will prohibit you from having or using a weapon for the rest of your life and subject to criminal charges for contempt if you violate any of the provisions contained in the FRO.
False Allegations: Simple Assault & Domestic Violence Lawyers in Toms River, NJ
The reasons why a person would make false domestic violence or simple assault allegations may vary greatly (i.e., jealousy, revenge, to gain child custody, more parenting time or a greater share of the property in a divorce settlement). No matter the reason, none are acceptable, fair, just, and are oftentimes illegal.
Be sure to attack this circumstance swiftly and aggressively with an attorney that you can trust. The consequences of a false conviction resulting in a FRO or Final Restraining Order can and will impact you for the rest of your life. As an innocent person, these allegations should not be taken lightly.
Our attorneys assist clients in Spring Lake, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Brick, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County areas. Visit our online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.
Failing to Appear in Ocean or Monmouth County Courts
Serving Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, and Wall Township and across the Jersey Shore
In New Jersey, a notice to appear is an official court order and should not be ignored. There can be serious consequences for failing to appear in court on a scheduled court date or to respond to a summons in a criminal offense or motor vehicle violation. What could have initially seemed to have been a simple parking ticket, traffic violation, or minor civil disturbance matter can evolve into a loss of driving privileges, court fees, the issuance of a warrant, revocation of bail, contempt of court charges, and even detention while you await trial.
No matter the reason, once a summons date has passed the issue is escalated, and the court or the judge has a greater amount of discretion to take. This includes issuing a bench warrant that authorizes police to make an immediate arrest. In addition, as part of the court record, bench warrants will likely show up on future background checks, even if the defendant is found guilty of failing to appear in a criminal matter, and is later acquitted of the underlying criminal charges.
Significant and unexpected events can happen in life, which may prevent someone from being able to make their court appearance. Open and honest communication with one´s legal counsel can help prevent any misunderstandings, arrest warrants, contempt fines, or jail time away from their loved ones.
Failure to Appear in Court: New Jersey Court Rule 7:8-9
Under New Jersey Court Rule 7:8-9, a judge can convict someone for failing to appear or respond to a court summons if:
- there is sufficient evidence that the person had proper notice of the trial date, and
- the court determines that the person intentionally did not come to court.
Potential Defenses for Failing to Appear in Court in Monmouth County, NJ
You will need to prove to the judge that a serious emergency physically prevented you from getting to court or responding to your summons. Potentially acceptable reasons may include:
- not being notified of the court date and time
- a previously scheduled court appearance
- a serious accident or illness
- a natural disaster
- a death in the family
Invalid Reasons for Failure to Appear in Court in Toms River, NJ
- moved and did not notify the court of your address change.
- thought the judge waived your appearance.
- had to work.
- were stuck in traffic.
Your car broke down.
The weather was bad.
I Missed My Court Date. What Now?
If you or someone you love in New Jersey, missed a court date for a traffic violation or a criminal offense or is trying to resolve a license suspension, arrest warrant, or an outstanding case, it is vital that you consult an experienced attorney who can best present your unique circumstances and explain your missed court appearance. Thus, possibly minimizing or avoiding any resulting penalties. This attorney should also be someone who can provide a strong defense of the underlying charges and increase the chances of an acquittal or reduction to a lesser charge.
CONTACT US AT OUR BRICK OR SEA GIRT OFFICE LOCATIONS
One of our lawyers is ready to provide a free case evaluation today!
The Bronzino Law Firm has decades of experience defending clients against traffic citations and criminal charges in Ocean and Monmouth County towns such as Wall, Jackson, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, and the surrounding communities.
We believe that by communicating honestly with our clients and keeping them well informed, we can find realistic and effective solutions for any legal matter. Attorney Peter J. Bronzino has built his practice based on the belief that each one of his clients deserves compassionate, highly attentive and effective legal counsel.
Whether you are facing a failure to appear charge related to a traffic violation, a disorderly person offense, or a city ordinance violation, our law firm can help you to negotiate with local courts, protect your rights, and ensure the future of you and your family.
Electronic Threats, Harassment, and Final Restraining Order Attorneys
Domestic Violence and Restraining Order Attorneys serving Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank and across the Jersey Shore
New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is a comprehensive and progressive piece of legislation designed to reduce violence between domestic partners and the precursors that lead up to it. This can mean addressing the issue of violence during the threat phase. These threats can come in many forms including physical, verbal or even electronic.
Threats of this nature could not have been imagined 30 years ago, however, as society evolves virtually and we have endless forms of communication at our fingertips, the courts have had to pay close attention to the harm these capabilities can deliver. Increased attention has been placed on abuse and criminal activity committed via electronic threats, via the transmission of texts, images, video, and more. Electronic threats, in fact, can now even be used as grounds for filing a Final Restraining Order.
Over the years, we have grown a family law firm focused on families and pride ourselves on delivering value to satisfied clients. At Bronzino Law Firm, your problems become ours, and together we work hard to obtain a successful outcome in your case. Peter Bronzino and the attorneys on his staff help educate and counsel clients so that they can make informed decisions.
Contact us for more information and a dedicated Family Law Attorney will provide you with the proper guidance to help navigate through the legal process. Call us at 732-812-3102 or visit our website to fill an online form and schedule an appointment.
Representative Case Regarding Electronic Harassment and Restraining Order Charges
In the 2017 case M.Y. v. G.C., the parties were divorcing after five years of marriage. M.Y. filed a complaint with the Superior Court of New Jersey Family Part in March 2016 for a temporary restraining order against G.C. She stated that G.C. had harassed her by calling and texting her repeatedly and that the calls and texts were threatening and harassing. The messages caused M.Y. to fear for her safety, kept her awake and made her feel sick.
The trial court judge granted M.Y. a final restraining order after finding that M.Y. was credible and believable. Using N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4(a) the judge determined that G.C. had committed a predicate act of harassment. The judge found that G.C.’s actions constituted harassment because G.C. sent M.Y. hundreds of messages over a four-day period with the intention of annoying or alarming her. Furthermore, the judge also concluded that a final restraining order was necessary to protect M.Y. from potential future harm or abuse.
What Constitutes Harassment in New Jersey?
Under 2C:33-4, harassment occurs when a person engages in any conduct which is alarming or repeats the behavior in a way which has the intent to annoy or alarm an individual seriously.
A person can be found guilty of harassment if they have the purpose to harass another by making communication anonymously, at extremely inconvenient hours or using offensively coarse language or communicating in any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm. Furthermore, a person can also be found guilty of harassment if they subject someone to striking, kicking, shoving, other offensive touching or threats to do so.
If a person engages in any conduct which is alarming or repeats conduct in a way which has the intent to annoy or alarm an individual seriously, they may also be found guilty of harassment. All of this conduct by itself would constitute a petty disorderly person offense. However, if a person is on probation or parole for any indictable offense, a new charge of harassment automatically becomes a fourth-degree offense, even when it is in no way related to the prior charge. A person will also be charged with a fourth-degree offense if they are serving a prison sentence at the time of the alleged Harassment.
First Amendment Protection of Offensive Language versus Harassment
It is important to note that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution permits the regulation of conduct, not expression. Consequently, the speech prohibited by the harassment statute must be said with the specific intention of harassing the listener.
In the 1981 New Jersey Appellate Division case of State v. Fin American Corp., it was clearly stated that the harassment statute was not enacted to prohibit mere speech, use of language, or other forms of expression. Therefore, the speech that is not permitted by the harassment statute has to be said with the specific intention of harassing the listener. Restraining orders predicated on harassment cannot be issued if based purely on a mere expression of opinion stated with offensive language or in an aggressive manner.
Contact a Toms River DV and Restraining Order Attorney Today
The Family Law Attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm handle clients facing harassment issues in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank and Monmouth County. Contact us today and let us protect your rights, and your privacy. Feel free to give us a call at 732-812-3102 to schedule a meeting at one of our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt or fill out the online form and we´ll get back you shortly.