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Domestic Abuse: Know the Laws, Know Your Rights

WEINER LAWInsightsDomestic ViolenceDomestic Abuse: Know the Laws, Know Your Rights
Client Update: COVID-19 Information

Domestic Violence

When a person enters into a relationship, they do so with expectations of a lifetime of happiness with their partner. Sometimes, those expectations fall short and signs of discord begin to manifest. Sentiments, words and actions can be perceived as hurtful, threatening or downright abusive, whether that was the intent or not. In New Jersey, domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that one partner exerts upon the other. It is considered a criminal act that can range anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the severity of the charge.

At Weiner Law Group, we know that domestic abuse is a complex, emotionally-laden issue. Tanya Freeman and our experienced family law litigators are ready to protect your legal rights. Whether you are dealing with abuse at home, allegations of abuse during a divorce or are facing criminal charges, our team of highly skilled lawyers will work to attain a successful outcome to your case.

New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) is a sweeping state law that defines domestic violence as committing one or more of several criminal offenses upon a person, regardless of gender, who is involved in or has had a personal relationship with the alleged perpetrator. Offenses under the law include crimes of violence and other acts of harassment, for which the alleged victim can obtain a restraining order.

What are the Types of Domestic Violence?

New Jersey domestic violence laws are meant to protect individuals living in a household, and recognizes the following types of abuse as criminal:

  • Physical abuse: Physical abuse is slightly easier to recognize because it is harder to disguise, and often more overt than emotional abuse. Physical abuse occurs when behaviors are clearly intended to render the victim powerless and to gain control in the relationship. Examples include: pushing, kicking, slapping, punching, scratching, strangling, biting, spitting and throwing objects near partner.
  • Psychological/emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is sometimes harder than physical abuse to define and recognize. A bruise will heal but the damage to a person’s self esteem can last forever. Examples include: constant insults, humiliation, criticism, gaslighting or manipulation, failure to respect privacy, coercion, enforced social isolation, threats of harm or abandonment, cyberbullying, and addressing a person in a patronizing way.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual violence is used by abusers in the same way that physical violence is used: to establish control. Examples include: rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, unwanted touching, and any forced sexual activity that the person lacks the capacity to consent to.
  • Financial/material abuse: Examples include: theft of money or possessions, fraud, scamming, and preventing a person from accessing or spending their own money, benefits or assets.
  • Abuse through neglect: Includes failure to provide or allow access to food, shelter, clothing, heating, stimulation and activity, personal or medical care; ignoring or isolating the person; refusal of access to visitors and failure to ensure privacy and dignity.

How do I go about getting a restraining order?

For victims of domestic violence, filing for a restraining order at the New Jersey Superior Court/Family Division (njcourts.gov) or at their local police department is often a first step in securing immediate protection.  In addition to requesting a restraining order, the plaintiff can file a criminal complaint arising from the same incident.

Getting counsel

According to the State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety (www.njsp.org), there were 59,645 domestic violence offenses reported by the police in 2019, a number that has increased in the state since the advent of the pandemic.

While Weiner Law Group (www.weiner.law) fully supports state and federal efforts to stop domestic violence, Tanya Freeman and her team also know well the damage a domestic violence allegation can make to person’s personal and professional life. Every individual has the right to a robust legal defense, and domestic violence claims are no exception. Contact us to learn more or to arrange for a consultation.