Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

High-Conflict-Divorce-300x200For victims of domestic abuse, freeing themselves from the relationship is paramount to their safety. While divorce is one solution, it may not be as easy as it sounds, and the courts are not always prepared to help.

Abuse can take on many forms—emotional, psychological, and physical. Unfortunately, emotional and psychological abuse can be difficult to prove, often resulting in a he said/she said conflict. Lacking any evidence of physical abuse, the courts hearing divorce motions will often view these cases as “high conflict” divorces and, in doing so, essentially lay blame on both parties. The result is a situation that gets worse before it gets better. To learn more about what a victim of domestic abuse may face when going for a divorce, read “If It’s ‘High-Conflict,’ It’s Likely Post-separation Abuse.”

Child's blue eye with tear showing affects of domestic violence on childrenSociety dictates that the ideal family is one where children are raised by two parents all living under the same roof. Yet, there are circumstances when staying together for the sake of the children is far from the best choice.

Parents involved in a domestic violence relationship may think they are hiding the abuse from their children, but often that is a false assumption. A recent study confirms that children of domestic violence—whether they are targets or witnesses—are two times more likely to develop long-term issues than their peers. To learn more about the impact domestic violence can have on the child who repeatedly witnesses this type of abuse read, “NJ Advocate: Children Being Damaged in Homes with Domestic Violence.”

photo of bruised eyeAlmost five months after it was due, the State’s Attorney General’s Office issued its report on a proposed bill that would allow for electronic monitoring of certain offenders convicted of domestic violence. The report casts doubt on how reliable the program would be and raises issues about its cost.(1)

Lisa’s Law, named after Letizia Zindell, a Toms River woman killed by her former fiancé in 2009, calls for the monitoring of certain domestic violence offenders by use of a GPS system that would warn their victims if they were in close proximity. For the monitoring system to work, both abusers and victims would be equipped with a GPS devise. The law was to be tested with a pilot program in Ocean County.(1)

The bill won unanimous approval by State lawmakers at the end of last year, but was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Christie pending review by the State Attorney General to establish if the necessary technology was available. Although the report was due this past May, it was not released until October 1.(2)

In the report, the Attorney General pointed out that a similar monitoring system is already used by the State’s parole board to track certain offenders deemed to be high-risk and expressed concern with increasing the program to include both offenders and victims of domestic violence. Among areas of concern addressed were the unreliability of the necessary technology, which could give victims a false sense of safety, and the possibility the devices could be used by both offender and victim to harass each other. The report also raised questions about the willingness of victims to be monitored and the cost-effectiveness of the program. It was estimated that the pilot program alone would cost up to $2.4 million to implement.(2)

Assemblyman Troy Singleton, a Democrat from Burlington County, questioned the thoroughness of the research behind the report, noting it only cited examples from three counties located in Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri to back up its findings. Mr. Singleton, who together with Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Ocean County) has re-introduced the bill, cited a contrasting study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012. According to that study, 149 out of 616 respondents representing 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico used GPS technology to monitor domestic violence offenders.(2) Continue reading ›

restraining%20order%20arrest.jpgRestraining orders don’t just go away. That’s the lesson one New York couple learned after a routine traffic stop in New Jersey led to the driver’s arrest on contempt of court charges stemming from violation of an outstanding protection order.

Earlier this month, Clinton Township Patrolman John Tiger stopped a vehicle for failure to use a turning signal as the driver turned off of Route 31 into a business, according to news reports. During that stop, Officer Tiger discovered there was an outstanding order for protection, or restraining order, against the driver. He also learned that the person who sought the restraining order was the passenger in the car at the time of the traffic stop. However, she informed the police that she had changed her mind about the order and thought that it would “just go away.” (1)

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400-03928500d.jpgIf Gov. Chris Christie signs a pending Bill before the current legislative session ends this week, certain domestic violence offenders could find themselves wearing electronic monitoring devices as part of a pilot program which would be implemented in Ocean County. If the Governor fails to sign the legislation, however, supporters of the Bill could find themselves back at square one. (1)

The proposed law, titled “Lisa’s Law,” was named after a Toms River resident, Letizia Zindel, who allegedly was murdered in 2009 by her ex-fiance despite the fact that she had obtained a restraining order against him. The murder took place one day after the man was released from prison where he had been serving time for violating that restraining order. He later killed himself. (1)

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Statistics reveal that one out of every four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life. Women aren’t the only victims, however; men also can suffer abuse. Domestic violence occurs in traditional marriages, same-sex unions, and unwed relationships. It knows no social, economic or ethnic boundaries and, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it ranks third among the leading causes of homelessness in this country. (1)

Because domestic violence is such a prevalent problem in our society, October has been named Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Hunterdon County. Numerous events designed to bring attention to this malady kicked off the month. A display entitled “Clothesline Project” featuring T-shirts decorated with messages of support by victims and survivors of domestic violence will be exhibited in county libraries throughout the month to help bring this issue to light. (2)

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New Jersey may soon use electronic monitoring devices to track certain repeat domestic violence offenders, offering their victims an extra layer of protection.

Last month, the state General Assembly passed a bill allow a pilot program be conducted in Ocean County, whereby Ocean County courts could order persons charged or convicted of domestic violence, or with violating a restraining order issued as a result of domestic violence, to wear an electronic monitoring device. The device would alert the abuser’s victim, either by computer or cell phone, whenever the abuser is within a certain distance. (1)

The bill is named after an Ocean County woman, Letizia (Lisa) Zindell of Toms River, who was killed in 2009 just one day after her ex-fiancé was released from prison where he had been serving time for repeatedly violating a restraining order. Sponsors of the bill contend that New Jersey’s current laws are not strong enough to protect victims from chronic abusers, noting that Ms. Zindell took all precautions available to her under the law, but those precautions were not enough to stop her abuser. (2)

A New Jersey appeals court recently ruled that the State was not obligated to provide counsel to either plaintiffs or defendants for hearings on restraining orders resulting from acts of domestic violence. (1)

The U.S. Constitution provides all citizens with the right to counsel, whether or not they can afford to hire a lawyer. That right, however, only applies to situations that could result in a prison sentence. New Jersey takes it a step further providing defendants, who cannot afford a lawyer, court-appointed counsel if the defendant faces jail time or “other serious consequences,” including the loss of a driver’s license or fines in excess of $1,800. (2)

While the above-mentioned ruling may seem to contradict State law, there is a difference. The court explained that the purpose of a restraining order is not to punish anyone, although it does require proof that a crime (assault, stalking, harassment, kidnapping, etc.) had been committed previously. Instead, the purpose of a restraining order is to protect someone from future harm. To do this, restraining orders give courts the right to impose certain restrictions and even fines of up to $500. These consequences, however, are not significant enough to warrant appointing counsel at the taxpayers’ expense, according to the court ruling. (1)

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Although New Jersey has the lowest divorce rate in the nation (1), break-ups do happen and when they do, tempers can flare. Sometimes those tempers get out of control. Restraining orders are designed to offer protection from a former or current partner who poses a threat. (2) If, after reading the following, you need a Hunterdon County lawyer to assist you with a similar situation regarding restraining orders, contact the family attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm.

New Jersey offers three types of restraining orders. Emergency orders offer immediate protection when courts are closed. Temporary restraining orders (TROs) are issued prior to a full hearing provided a judge finds sufficient evidence of potential harm. Final restraining orders are those issued after a full hearing at which each party is given a chance to present their side. They can stay in effect indefinitely; in fact, they do not terminate unless a judge sets an expiration date or either party files a motion to end or amend the terms of the order. (2)

As 2010 was drawing to a close, New Jersey lawmakers were busy adopting bills to improve the rights of victims of violent crimes including victims of domestic violence.

The first bill, which was signed into law last month by Gov. Chris Christie, extended the time-frame under which victims of violent crimes, including domestic violence, could, under certain circumstances, collect compensation benefits from the State through the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO).

Previously violent crime victims or, in some cases, their dependents and families, could receive State benefits to cover expenses incurred as a result of the crime for a period of five years after the crime was committed. Those expenses may include physical and mental medical bills and relocation costs.

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