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Kenneth Vercammen & Associates
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Edison NJ 08817
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Cranbury, NJ 08512
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Domestic Violence in New Jersey

New Jersey domestic violence laws are very strict. If there any signs of physical injuries the police must arrest the abuser. Even without independent witnesses and no physical injuries, police may arrest the abuser. Domestic Violence is a crime under the law, and the police must respond to the calls of victims. The police are required to give the victim information about their rights and to help them. Among other things, police must write up a report. For example, O.J. Simpson would not have gotten away with abuse in New Jersey. Police are automatically required to arrest an abuser if they see any evidence of abuse or assault. Even during the evening your town Municipal Court or Superior Court can issue a civil restraining order which is a legally enforceable document. The temporary restraining order will prohibit the defendant/abuser from harassing you or entering your residence. Unlike a criminal case where a person is provided with lengthy due process, and if guilty receives probation and a monetary fine, a domestic violence hearing allows judges to issue far reaching orders. A domestic violence hearing is usually held within only ten (10) days of the filing of an ex parte complaint and temporary restraining order. After a hearing , NJSA 2C:25-29 (b) allows the Chancery Division, Family Part Judge to grant substantial relief to the complainant. Among the relief the Court may give is: An order restraining the defendant from subjecting the victim to domestic violence, as defined in this act. An order granting exclusive possession to the plaintiff of the residence or household regardless of whether the residence or household is jointly or solely owned by the parties or jointly or solely leased by the parties... An order providing for visitation...[ meaning the complainant obtains custody] An order requiring the defendant to pay to the victim monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the act of domestic violence... An order restraining the defendant from entering the residence, property, school, or place of employment of the victim or of other family or household members of the victim... An order restraining the defendant from making any communication likely to cause annoyance or alarm... An order requiring that the defendant make or continue to make rent or mortgage payments on the residence occupied by the victim if the defendant is found to have a duty to support the victim or other dependent household members... An order granting either party temporary possession of specified personal property, such as an automobile, checkbook, documentation of health insurance, any identification documents, a key, and other personal effects. An order awarding emergent monetary relief to the victim and other dependents, if any. An ongoing obligation of support shall be determined at a later date pursuant to applicable law. An Order awarding temporary custody of a minor child. The court shall presume that the best interests of the child shall be served by an award of custody to the non- abusive parent. An Order requiring that a law enforcement officer accompany either party to the residence to supervise the removal of personal belongings. An Order permitting the victim and the defendant to occupy the same premises only if the plaintiff requests such an order. An Order granting any other appropriate relief for the plaintiff and minor children An Order that the defendant report to the intake office of the Family Part for monitoring An Order prohibiting the defendant from possessing any firearm or weapon Recent caselaw protects victims. In Pepe v Pepe, 258 N.J. Super. 157 (Chan. Div. 1992) held that the confidentiality provision of record keeping under the Domestic Violence act applies to the records kept on file with the Clerk of the Superior Court. The court held that in determining whether or not a statutory imposed confidential record should be made public, the court must consider whether the release of the documents will be harmful to the victim, whether adverse publicity will be a factor and whether access to court records will discourage the victim from coming forward. Despite the substantial financial burden and life restrictions (often referred to as penalties), the burden of proof in a DOMESTIC VIOLENCE hearing is only a preponderance of evidence. Hopefully, parties will put best interests of children ahead of short term animosity. Financial limitations often limit the family ability to become involved in lengthy divorce and custody battles. A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE complaint can be withdrawn. For additional information, speak with an attorney experienced in handling Domestic Violence matters. Domestic violence statute revised:

2C:25-29.1 Civil penalty for certain domestic violence offenders.

1.In addition to any other disposition, any person found by the court in a final hearing pursuant to section 13 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-29) to have committed an act of domestic violence shall be ordered by the court to pay a civil penalty of at least $50, but not to exceed $500. In imposing this civil penalty, the court shall take into consideration the nature and degree of injury suffered by the victim. The court may waive the penalty in cases of extreme financial hardship.

L.2001,c.195,s.1.

2C:25-29.2 Collection, distribution of civil penalties collected. 2.All civil penalties imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2001, c.195 (C.2C:25-29.1) shall be collected as provided by the Rules of Court. All moneys collected shall be forwarded to the Domestic Violence Victims Fund established pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2001, c.195 (C.30:14-15).

L.2001,c.195,s.2.

2C:25-29.3 Rules of Court.

4.The Supreme Court may promulgate Rules of Court to effectuate the purposes of this act.

L.2001,c.195,s.4.

2C:25-29.1 Civil penalty for certain domestic violence offenders.

1.In addition to any other disposition, any person found by the court in a final hearing pursuant to section 13 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-29) to have committed an act of domestic violence shall be ordered by the court to pay a civil penalty of at least $50, but not to exceed $500. In imposing this civil penalty, the court shall take into consideration the nature and degree of injury suffered by the victim. The court may waive the penalty in cases of extreme financial hardship.

L.2001,c.195,s.1.

2C:25-29.2 Collection, distribution of civil penalties collected. 2.All civil penalties imposed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2001, c.195 (C.2C:25-29.1) shall be collected as provided by the Rules of Court. All moneys collected shall be forwarded to the Domestic Violence Victims Fund established pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2001, c.195 (C.30:14-15).

L.2001,c.195,s.2.

2C:25-30. Violations, penalties 14. Except as provided below, a violation by the defendant of an order issued pursuant to this act shall constitute an offense under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9 and each order shall so state. All contempt proceedings conducted pursuant to N.J.S.2C:29-9 involving domestic violence orders, other than those constituting indictable offenses, shall be heard by the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court. All contempt proceedings brought pursuant to P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.) shall be subject to any rules or guidelines established by the Supreme Court to guarantee the prompt disposition of criminal matters. Additionally, and notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided in N.J.S.2C:43-8, any person convicted of a second or subsequent nonindictable domestic violence contempt offense shall serve a minimum term of not less than 30 days. Orders entered pursuant to paragraphs (3), (4), (5), (8) and (9) of subsection b. of section 13 of this act shall be excluded from enforcement under subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9; however, violations of these orders may be enforced in a civil or criminal action initiated by the plaintiff or by the court, on its own motion, pursuant to applicable court rules.

L.1991,c.261,s.14; amended 1994,c.93,s.3; 1994,c.94,s.6.

2C:25-31 Contempt, law enforcement procedures.

15.Where a law enforcement officer finds that there is probable cause that a defendant has committed contempt of an order entered pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1981, c.426 (C.2C:25-1 et seq.) or P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.), the defendant shall be arrested and taken into custody by a law enforcement officer. The law enforcement officer shall follow these procedures:

The law enforcement officer shall transport the defendant to the police station or such other place as the law enforcement officer shall determine is proper. The law enforcement officer shall:

a.Conduct a search of the domestic violence central registry and sign a complaint concerning the incident which gave rise to the contempt charge;

b.Telephone or communicate in person or by facsimile with the appropriate judge assigned pursuant to this act and request bail be set on the contempt charge;

c.If the defendant is unable to meet the bail set, take the necessary steps to insure that the defendant shall be incarcerated at police headquarters or at the county jail; and

d.During regular court hours, the defendant shall have bail set by a Superior Court judge that day. On weekends, holidays and other times when the court is closed, the officer shall arrange to have the clerk of the Family Part notified on the next working day of the new complaint, the amount of bail, the defendants whereabouts and all other necessary details. In addition, if a municipal court judge set the bail, the arresting officer shall notify the clerk of that municipal court of this information.

L.1991,c.261,s.15; amended 1994, c.94, s.7; 1999, c.421, s.5. 2C:25-32. Alleged contempt, complainants procedure 16. Where a person alleges that a defendant has committed contempt of an order entered pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1981, c.426 (C.2C:25-1 et seq.) or P.L.1991, c.261, but where a law enforcement officer has found that there is not probable cause sufficient to arrest the defendant, the law enforcement officer shall advise the complainant of the procedure for completing and signing a criminal complaint alleging a violation of N.J.S.2C:29-9. During regular court hours, the assistance of the clerk of the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court shall be made available to such complainants. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the court from granting any other emergency relief it deems necessary.

L.1991,c.261,s.16.

2C:25-33 Records of applications for relief; reports; confidentiality; forms.

17. a. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall, with the assistance of the Attorney General and the county prosecutors, maintain a uniform record of all applications for relief pursuant to sections 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-25, C.2C:25-26, C.2C:25-27, C.2C:25-28, and C.2C:25-29). The record shall include the following information:

(1)The number of criminal and civil complaints filed in all municipal courts and the Superior Court;

(2)The sex of the parties;

(3)The relationship of the parties;

(4)The relief sought or the offense charged, or both;

(5)The nature of the relief granted or penalty imposed, or both, including, but not limited to, the following:

(a)custody;

(b)child support;

(c)the specific restraints ordered;

(d)any requirements or conditions imposed pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (18) of subsection b. of section 13 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-29), including but not limited to professional counseling or psychiatric evaluations;

(6)The effective date of each order issued; and

(7)In the case of a civil action in which no permanent restraints are entered, or in the case of a criminal matter that does not proceed to trial, the reason or reasons for the disposition.

It shall be the duty of the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts to compile and report annually to the Governor, the Legislature and the Advisory Council on Domestic Violence on the data tabulated from the records of these orders.

All records maintained pursuant to this act shall be confidential and shall not be made available to any individual or institution except as otherwise provided by law.

b.In addition to the provisions of subsection a. of this section, the Administrative Office of the Courts shall, with the assistance of the Attorney General and the county prosecutors, create and maintain uniform forms to record sentencing, bail conditions and dismissals. The forms shall be used by the Superior Court and by every municipal court to record any order in a case brought pursuant to this act. Such recording shall include but not be limited to, the specific restraints ordered, any requirements or conditions imposed on the defendant, and any conditions of bail.

L.1991,c.261,s.17; amended 1994, c.94, s.8; 1999, c.119, s.1; 1999, c.421, s.6.

2C:25-34 Domestic violence restraining orders, central registry.

1.The Administrative Office of the Courts shall establish and maintain a central registry of all persons who have had domestic violence restraining orders entered against them, all persons who have been charged with a crime or offense involving domestic violence, and all persons who have been charged with a violation of a court order involving domestic violence. All records made pursuant to this section shall be kept confidential and shall be released only to:

a.A public agency authorized to investigate a report of domestic violence;

b.A police or other law enforcement agency investigating a report of domestic violence, or conducting a background investigation involving a persons application for a firearm permit or employment as a police or law enforcement officer or for any other purpose authorized by law or the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey; or

c.A court, upon its finding that access to such records may be necessary for determination of an issue before the court.

Any individual, agency or court which receives from the Administrative Office of the Courts the records referred to in this section shall keep such records and reports, or parts thereof, confidential and shall not disseminate or disclose such records and reports, or parts thereof; provided that nothing in this section shall prohibit a receiving individual, agency or court from disclosing records and reports, or parts thereof, in a manner consistent with and in furtherance of the purpose for which the records and reports or parts thereof were received.

Any individual who disseminates or discloses a record or report, or parts thereof, of the central registry, for a purpose other than investigating a report of domestic violence, conducting a background investigation involving a persons application for a firearm permit or employment as a police or law enforcement officer, making a determination of an issue before the court, or for any other purpose other than that which is authorized by law or the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey, shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

L.1999,c.421,s.1.


Kenneth Vercammen was the Middlesex County Bar Municipal Court Attorney of the Year

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Ken Vercammen articles

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