This site is designed to provide you with some general information about the court process and answer some frequently asked questions about domestic violence matters. This site may not contain all of the questions you may have regarding domestic violence.
- What is domestic violence?
- What is a restraining order?
- Where can a domestic violence complaint be filed?
- What happens after the complaint is filed?
- What happens at the final hearing?
- Can a criminal complaint be filed in this matter?
- How long does a restraining order last?
- How long does it take to get into court?
- What if the abuser fails to appear in court?
- What if the abuser violates a restraining order?
- What happens if the abuser and victim decide to get back together?
- If I have any additional questions about domestic violence, who may I call?
- What if a victim needs or wants legal advice?
Domestic violence means the occurrence of one or more criminal offenses such as homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, false imprisonment, sexual assault, lewdness, criminal trespass or mischief, harassment or burglary upon any person who is 18 years or older, who is an emancipated minor or any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, a former spouse, any other person who is a present or former household member or a person with whom the victim has a child in common.
A Restraining Order is an order issued by the Court that is intended to protect a victim of domestic violence. The provisions contained in this type of court order are based upon the circumstances and can vary from case to case.
A domestic violence complaint can be filed at the Hudson County Administration Building, Family Court, 595 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey on the second floor, room 220 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. After hours and on weekends and holidays, a complaint can be filed with the local police department or municipal court.
The victim will be interviewed by a probation officer and a representative from the Battered Womens' Program. They will explain the court process and advise the victim about what services are available. After this, the complaint will be processed and the case will be heard as soon as possible before a judge/Domestic Violence Hearing Officer in court on the same day as cases of this nature can take time.
If the judge/Domestic Violence Hearing Officer feels that the complaint falls within the guidelines of domestic violence, the victim will be issued a Temporary Restraining Order or TRO. After the victim receives the TRO, the case will then be scheduled to return to court for a Final Hearing within ten days. It is the victim's responsibility to bring a copy of the TRO to local police department.
At the Final Hearing, the judge/Domestic Violence Hearing Officer will hear testimony from both the victim and the abuser. At this time, it will be decided whether an act of domestic violence occurred and what type of reliefs should be granted to the victim. Reliefs such as, protection from future violence, visitation, custody, support payments or other monetary compensation, rent or mortgage payments, temporary possession of personal property, conditions of visitation for defendant, professional counseling, and/or prohibition against weapon possession are available. If there is evidence to believe the victim's complaint, a Final Domestic Violence Restraining Order will be issued to the victim. After the order has been issued, a copy of this order will be given to both the victim and the abuser. The victim must also bring a copy of this order to the police department in the town in which the victim lives so that the police department can be made aware of this order.
Yes, in addition to filing for a restraining order, the victim can file a criminal complaint. A criminal complaint must be filed at the police department or municipal court in the town where the victim lives.
Provided that both parties obey the terms of the order, there is no time limit on how long a Final Restraining Order lasts.
Due to the large number of cases that the court must process each day, people may be required to wait several hours before their case can be heard.
If the abuser has been properly notified of the court hearing by mail and/or personally, and fails to appear a warrant can be issued for the abuser's arrest.
If an abuser violates a restraining order, the victim is advised to go to the victim's local police department or municipal court and sign a criminal "Contempt of a Restraining Order" complaint. This complaint will state "how" the abuser violated the restraining order. This contempt complaint will then go to the police department so the police can arrest the abuser for violating the restraining order. After the abuser has been arrested, he/she will be brought to the Family Court for a bail hearing. After the bail hearing, a court date will be set so that the defendant can answer these contempt charges. The victim, who is represented by a prosecutor, and abuser, who may be represented by private counsel or a public defender if qualified, must both be present at this hearing. After the judge has heard testimony from both parties, the judge will decide guilt or innocence and order the appropriate sentence. The judge may also impose fines against the abuser.
If the abuser and victim decide to get back together, the victim must return to court and withdraw the restraining order. The victim will be interviewed to make sure that he/she is not being forced to withdraw the complaint. The victim will then go into court where he/she can explain his/her decision to the judge. If the judge is satisfied that the victim is withdrawing the complaint without fear or threats from the abuser, the court can dismiss the complaint. Again, the victim is responsible to bring a copy of the dismissal order to his/her local police department.
You may call the Domestic Violence Unit at (201) 217-5384 or (201) 217-5697 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Court employees cannot and do not give legal advice. If legal advice is needed or wanted, you may contact an attorney of your own choosing, or you may contact the Hudson County Bar Association's Referral Service at (201) 798-2727 for assistance. If the victim cannot afford an attorney, the victim may contact Hudson County Legal Services, located at 574 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey 07306, telephone