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Overview Of New Jerseys Domestic Violence Laws

New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 specifies 14 prohibited criminal acts, one or more of which constitutes an act of domestic violence if perpetrated by an adult or emancipated minor upon someone with whom they are in a relationship. The acts include actual or threatened emotional, physical and economic abuse ranging from harassment and lewdness to false imprisonment and criminal mischief to assault and homicide.

Under the state’s domestic violence definition, a victim of domestic violence and the perpetrator must currently be in an intimate relationship or have a history of such. An intimate relationship is one in which the parties are married, separated, divorced, cohabiting, dating, formerly dated, have a child together or are pregnant with a child together. Additionally, unemancipated persons under the age of 18 are only considered victims of domestic violence if there is a child in common with the abuser or a dating relationship currently or formerly existed.

A civil complaint can seek compensation for expenses, losses or pain and suffering, as well as to provide protection from the abuser. Victims of domestic violence are granted certain protections by state law. Under the Address Confidentiality Program, victims can obtain a legal substitute address for use with public agencies. Victims can apply for a protection order against the abuser, and they can request that the courts modify custody and support orders.

If a 16-year-old female is beaten by her 18-year-old boyfriend, then she is considered a victim of domestic violence. However, if a 16-year-old female is beaten by her 17-year-old unemancipated boyfriend, then she is not considered a victim since under the law, crimes committed by an unemancipated minor are excluded from the definition. The court may issue a restraining order, though, on the basis of the juvenile’s offense.

Source: Findlaw, “New Jersey Domestic Violence Laws“, September 01, 2014

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