Although New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) specifically allows for restraining orders in the event of harassment, proving that harassment has taken place is one of the most challenging aspects of a domestic violence trial. It is difficult as New Jersey law requires proof that the aggressor actually intended to harass the party seeking protection.
Under New Jersey law, ” a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense of harassment, if, with purpose to harass another, he” or she:
- Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;
- Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or
- Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.
A recent New Jersey appellate case reaffirmed that the Court must find that the aggressor acted with a “purpose to harass” before issuing a Final Restraining Order (FRO). In A.I.H. v. Z.O.F., the defendant appealed from a decision granting the plaintiff a FRO to stop the defendant from harassing her. The defendant argued the trial court did not specifically find that defendant spoke or acted with a “purpose to harass” the plaintiff. The Appellate Division agreed with the defendant that the trial court did not specifically find that defendant acted with a “purpose to harass” the plaintiff. Fortunately for the plaintiff however, the Appellate Division also held that the trial court’s unequivocal rejection of defendant’s excuse for continuously contacting the plaintiff, coupled with the trial court’s finding that defendant’s true “purpose” was to exert “some type of control over her,” sufficiently proved that defendant did intend to harass the defendant. Thus, the Appellate Division upheld the issuance of the Final Restraining Order in that case.
If you have asked the Court for a Final Restraining Order and been denied, contact us for a consultation today.