“Dating” relationships defined according to New Jersey domestic violence law

“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

"Dating" Relationships and Domestic Violence Attorney in Brick and Sea Girt NJAccording 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?

Brick Domestic Violence Attorney Help You Navigate through your CaseA 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.

To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced team member today regarding your case, please visit our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.