Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Final Restraining Order (FRO) Cannot Be Granted Without Factual Findings
L.S. sought a final restraining order against J.P. under the Protection of Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -34). L.S. and J.P. were both married to others but had an affair with each other for approximately 1 year before their spouses became aware. L.S. attempted to terminate the relationship in approximately May 2013 and J.P. continued to contact her. L.S. sought a final restraining order (FRO) against J.P. The FRO was granted in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County. In L.S. v. J.P., J.P. appealed focusing on the court's finding that he had committed the act of harassment (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4). J.P. maintained that the relationship continued, in a pattern of arguments and reconciliations, up until the time L.S. filed the charges against him. The court below focused only on the messages from L.S. to J.P. did not make findings regarding messages J.P sent to L.S. The court below made no findings about the credibility of the parties. Most importantly for J.P., the court failed to make the required finding that J.P. intended to harass or annoy L.S. In Silver v. Silver, 387 N.J. Super. 112, 127 (App. Div. 2006), the court set forth a two step inquiry. First it must be established by the Plaintiff that a predicate act of domestic violence occurred against a person protected by the act. Thereafter, it must be determined that a restraining order is necessary to protect the victim from immediate danger or further abuse. The Appellate Division reversed and remanded for factual findings supporting the decision. If you are charged with domestic violence or you are seeking a final restraining order against an abuser, there are specific burdens of proof for both parties in proving or disproving the charges making it critical that you obtain experienced criminal defense counsel to represent you in such matters. For more information regarding domestic violence, restraining orders, assault, battery and other criminal law issues in NJ visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.