Simple Assault as Grounds for a Restraining Order in New Jersey
New Jersey Domestic Violence Laws require an act of domestic violence to occur in order for the victim to obtain a restraining order. According to the NJ Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) of 1991, there are 19 offenses considered “acts of domestic violence,” one of which is assault. When an assault occurs in the context of domestic violence and/or police are called to the scene of a domestic dispute, the alleged abuser may be arrested and charged with assault. In addition, the alleged victim will be informed of their right to file a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Simple Assault as an Act of Domestic Violence
There are two types of assault that fall under the umbrella of “domestic violence assault” in New Jersey, including simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is the more common form of assault charge and it is also commonly used as grounds for a restraining order. According to the New Jersey statute that explains simple assault, NJSA 2C:12-1(a), this offense occurs when a person:
- Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person; or
- Negligently causes bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon; or
- Attempts by physical menace to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Notice that even an attempt to cause bodily injury is considered simple assault in New Jersey. “Bodily injury” has a broad definition, encompassing any physical harm or pain inflicted on another person. Simple assault can also involve threatening conduct that makes someone believe they are in immediate danger of suffering serious harm.
When considering the breadth of the language in the simple assault statute, it is easy to see how individuals can face restraining orders with simple assault as the basis.
It is important to note here that for a restraining order to be issued based on simple assault, the parties must qualify for a domestic violence relationship, meaning they are or have been married, are currently or formerly dating, are living or previously resided together, or share a child or are expecting a child. Without a qualified domestic violence relationship, simple assault can only result in criminal charges and cannot be used as grounds for a restraining order.
Restraining Orders Based on Simple Assault
If police at a domestic violence scene observe visible signs of injury, they must file a criminal complaint against the person they have reasonable basis to believe caused the injury. Unfortunately, sometimes two people will engage in a physical altercation where only one person comes away with signs of injury. This doesn’t mean that the fight wasn’t mutual but it often leads to charges against the person who doesn’t “look hurt.” Regardless of the circumstances, the person who police officers identify as the victim will also be given the option to file a restraining order.
If the person chooses to request a restraining order, a temporary restraining order may be issued by a judge who evaluates the circumstances of the specific case. At that point, if the two people involved share a residence, the person subject to the restraining order will be forced to leave. While a simple assault restraining order case is pending, the plaintiff may not return to the residence without a police escort to gather their belongings.
In order for a final restraining order to be issued based on simple assault, there must be a final hearing before a Family Court judge in the Superior Court in the county where the TRO was issued. At the restraining order hearing, both parties are entitled to have an attorney representing them. Your attorney can help you prepare the most compelling case, which may include witnesses, photos of injuries and property damage, medical records, and other important forms of evidence that support your side of the story.
Get Answers about Simple Assault Restraining Orders in New Jersey
For more information about simple assault and domestic violence in New Jersey, please contact the knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm at (201)-556-1570. Our lawyers have helped thousands of clients with restraining orders and simple assault charges in courts throughout New Jersey and we are here to answer your questions. Contact us for a free consultation anytime, day or night.