Q. What is the Domestic Violence Act?
A. The Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et. seq.) is a series
of laws designed to protect victims of domestic violence.
Q. What types of relief does this Act provide?
A. The most sought-after and powerful relief provided by The Act is a
Restraining Order. A Restraining Order can either be temporary or final
and can only be issued by a judge. If issued, a Restraining Order can
direct an offender to stay away from a victim, the victim's family, and
the victim's friends. It can also direct an offender to stay away from
the victim's residence, place of employment and other places frequented
by the victim.
Q. How do I get Restraining Order?
A. Between the hours of 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, you can apply for a Restraining
Order in the Family Court Domestic Violence Unit of the Superior Court,
at the Robert N. Wilentz Court Complex, Room 1251, 212 Washington Street,
Newark. After 3:00 pm, contact your local police department. They will
contact a judge to determine whether or not a Restraining Order should
Q. How do I know if I am entitled to a Restraining Order?
A. To qualify for a Restraining Order you must be a "victim"
who has been subjected to an act of "domestic violence." "Victim"
means any person 18 years of age or older, who has been subjected to an
act of domestic violence by spouse, former spouse, or present or former
household member. It also includes any person, regardless of age, who
has been subjected to an act of domestic violence by a person with whom
he/she has a child in common, or if one of the parties is pregnant by
the other. It also includes a person with whom the defendant has had a
dating relationship. "Domestic Violence" means any of the following
acts committed against a "victim" as defined above: Homicide;
Assault, Terroristic Threats; Kidnapping; Criminal Restraint; False Imprisonment;
Sexual Assault; Criminal Sexual Contact; Lewdness; Criminal Mischief;
Burglary; Criminal Trespass; Harassment; and Stalking. Please see the
Identification Flow Chart.
Q. Can I get a Restraining Order against a juvenile?
A. Only if the juvenile has been emancipated. Emancipation is defined
as: 1.) Having a child or being pregnant; 2.) Currently or previously
married; 3.) Currently or previously in the military; or 4.) Having been
declared emancipated by a court or an administrative agency. Please see
Identification Flow Chart.
Q. What happens when I go to court to get a Restraining Order?
A. Superior and Municipal Court procedures differ slightly. In the Superior
Court, Domestic Violence Unit you will be asked to fill out a domestic
violence complaint. A domestic violence complaint is a civil complaint,
not a criminal complaint. You will then appear before a judge who will
review the complaint and ask you some questions. If the judge is satisfied,
a Temporary Restraining order will be issued and a date will be set for
a Final Restraining Order hearing. After hours, the same procedure is
followed, however, the judge is contacted over the telephone by the local
police department and the order is issued over the phone.
Q. What is the difference between a Temporary and Final Restraining
A. A Temporary Restraining Order is issued based only upon the input of
the victim. The defendant is not notified by the court and is not present.
A Temporary Restraining Order is intended to provide exactly the same
relief to the victim as a Final Restraining Order. However, it is intended
to last only until the final hearing.
Q. Does my Temporary Restraining Order have a time limit?
A. No. A Temporary Restraining Order will last until it is dismissed by
the court at the request of the victim; or if a final hearing is held
and a Final Restraining Order is not granted. There is no 'time limit'
on a Temporary Restraining Order. If the defendant is served with the
Restraining Order but does not appear for a final hearing, the Temporary
Restraining Order can continue indefinitely.
Q. How long does a Final Restraining Order last?
A. If there has been a final hearing and a Final Restraining Order has
been granted, it will last unless and until a court dismisses it. If there
is no request for dismissal, it will last indefinitely.
Q. Do I have to tell the defendant my address to get a Restraining
A. No. If your current address is not known to the defendant, the court
will not compel you to tell the defendant. The Order will merely indicate
that the defendant is "barred from the current residence."
Q. I have moved and my Restraining Order has my old address and my
old place of employment. What should I do?
A. If you would like this information added to your Restraining order,
you should request a modification form the Superior Court. A new hearing
date will be set and the modifications will be made. However, be aware
that this information will be made available to the defendant.
Q. I want to drop my Restraining Order. Can I just let the defendant
move back in or start seeing him again?
A. No. Restraining Orders can only be dismissed by a court. Any violation
of a Restraining Order, even if consented to by a victim, may result in
the arrest and incarceration of a defendant.
Q. What do I do if I feel my Restraining Order has been violated?
A. Call the police. A violation of a Restraining Order is a crime, punishable
by up to 18 months in jail. Restraining Order violations are treated very
seriously by law enforcement and the courts. Violations typically result
in complaints being issued by either the police or victim. If you encounter
problems in reporting a violation of a Restraining Order, contact the
Domestic Violence Unit of the Prosecutor's Office.
For more information, see the Essex
Vicinage Domestic Violence web page.