Everyone thought the story was over. In 2009, pop sensation Rihanna was brutally assaulted by her then boyfriend Chris Brown. The singer stated that she ended the relationship, and the media applauded her brave move. She became a role model for domestic violence victims around the world.
That is, until January of 2013 when the star publicly announced that she had rekindled her relationship with her convicted abuser. Unfortunately, Rihanna’s story is all too common in the world of domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is a family law issue that can impact everyone. Rihanna’s story provides an example of how this tragic crime can touch anyone. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently stated domestic violence is a “public health problem that affects millions of Americans.”
Law makers in New Jersey take a stance similar to the CDC on domestic violence. New Jersey’s Legislature officially states domestic violence is “a serious crime against society.” According to the Legislature, thousands of citizens of the state are victims of domestic abuse every year.
Domestic violence is defined in New Jersey as the occurrence of any one or more of 14 criminal offenses, including: assault, homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, harassment or stalking. More information on how the court’s handle domestic abuse in New Jersey can be found here.
Victims of domestic violence are protected under the New Jersey Domestic Violence Act. It provides two types of relief: civil and criminal. Civil relief allows citizens to obtain restraining orders against abusers. This order is issued by the court and offers various levels of protection depending on each individual case.
After filing for a restraining order, a domestic violence staff member conducts an interview with the victim. This interview focuses on the incident that led to the requested restraining order as well as any past instances of domestic abuse. A hearing is then held with a domestic abuse officer or judge. If granted, the person requesting the restraining order receives a temporary restraining order to offer protection until the final restraining order is issued.
Before a final restraining order is issued, a hearing is held with both the alleged victim and abuser. The judge listens to both sides and determines whether a final restraining order is appropriate. If issued, the abuser may be required to pay the court a monetary penalty that can range from $50 to $500. Additional issues around child custody, possession of the couple’s home and potential damages may also be addressed.
If an abuser violates the restraining order, an enforcement officer may be called to provide assistance. Violation can lead to criminal charges.
Navigating the laws associated with domestic abuse in New Jersey can be difficult. If you or a loved one is dealing with a family law issue, like domestic abuse, contact an experienced New Jersey family law firm to discuss your unique situation and better ensure your legal rights are protected.