No city in the United States is immune to domestic violence. Even in a peaceful suburb, like Morristown, New Jersey, domestic violence occurs whenever one person seeks total control over another, especially over those closest to them. Of course, not everyone accused of domestic abuse actually committed the actions included in the subsequent criminal charges or restraining order. If you are involved in a Morristown domestic violence case, here’s what to know.
Resources Available to Domestic Violence Victims in Morristown, New Jersey
When it comes to domestic violence, some believe substance abuse is to blame, while others believe past trauma or psychological disorders cause abuse. The profile of an abuser comes down to a controlling person, who believes they are victims of a society that denies them their absolute right to dominate their relationships. Sometimes a desperate attempt to keep a relationship drives physical, psychological, emotional, social, economic, and verbal abuse. And while there are few resources for batterers, victims have numerous options, like safe houses providing shelter, counseling, and other resources to protect and assist victims.
Morristown domestic violence victims also have rights under the law and protection by the police, as well as the criminal and family courts. Under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, those who are victim of one or more specified crimes of varying degrees, from stalking to assault; are over 18 or an emancipated minor; and abused, threatened, or harassed by a current or former spouse, lover, household member, partner or parent of an existing or future child of the parties, are protected under the law. They may press criminal charges against the other party through the Morristown Police or on their own at the Morristown Municipal Court during regular court hours. They may also file a domestic violence complaint in the Morris County Superior Court, Family Division, concurrently with a petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). A TRO protects the petitioner and their household by a court order that forbids the defendant from contacting or communicating with the victim.
What Happens when Domestic Abuse Occurs in Morristown NJ
Criminal charges are typically filed by the police when called out to a domestic violence scene, where one party is visibly injured or claims to be. The police may arrest the alleged offender, confiscate any weapons, and help the victim file a criminal complaint, even taking the victim to the police station or courthouse. The criminal case is handled by the County or Municipal Prosecutor (depending on the degree of the offense), and the defendant may be charged with a domestic violence offense, as well as any other crimes committed in the act of domestic violence. The victim may additionally file a civil action in the family court division of the Superior Court. In the criminal action, the defendant may have an attorney appointed for them, while in the civil action, both parties may appear on their own or with their attorneys.
Both criminal complaints and civil complaints for domestic violence begin with filing the proper paperwork with the appropriate court. A police report, if the police were called out, is attached to both complaints. The criminal complaint is framed as the state against the defendant. As such, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed the acts alleged in the complaint. The victim’s role is to testify at the time of trial to the facts constituting the domestic violence.
In the restraining order case, the victim is the one prosecuting the complaint and must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (the evidence weighs more in the plaintiff’s favor) that an act of domestic violence occurred, there is a history of abuse among the respective parties, and the victim is reasonable in fearing for their safety. For the purposes of a TRO, the petitioner files papers with the family court swearing under oath to the facts of abuse, including the details of the incident: parties, witnesses, and location. The TRO application may request custody, visitation, and support arrangements in addition to protection. In some cases, the TRO is obtained in an emergency at the court or by phone. The judge hears the victim’s account of the abuse and, if convinced, orders the TRO. A full hearing follows ten days after, giving both parties the opportunity to tell their sides of the story, including bringing any witnesses to testify. Then, the court orders a permanent or final restraining order (FRO) if satisfied that the evidence supports such an order.
Accused of Domestic Violence in Morristown NJ?
A restraining order can have severe consequences for the defendant, potentially leading to criminal punishments, loss of civil liberties, and financial distress. While courts typically err to the side of caution when granting TRO’s, even without the defendant there, mistakes happen. Unfortunately, not every domestic violence claim is true. Given the emotional turmoil of strained domestic relationships, some claimed victims use the legal system to deny the other party parental rights or seek revenge by filing false domestic violence claims. In that case, the accused needs to be prepared at the final restraining order hearing to calmly and completely relay the true facts. To get the TRO and criminal charges dismissed, you need a skilled Morris County restraining order attorney fighting for you. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, find an experienced Morristown domestic violence lawyer to help defend you by contacting us today. Consultations are free and confidential.