JBWS legal advocates now work out of the new Morris Family Justice Center (MFJC) in Morristown, NJ. To learn more about the MFJC and to see a complete list of services and walk-in hours, go to www.morrisfjc.org.
Legal advocates are available to support individuals in need of legal protection from domestic violence.
Legal advocates can assist victims throughout the restraining order process, and provide support in family court. Advocates can support clients in obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Final Restraining Order (FRO), as well as Dismissals of Restraining Orders.
Advocates can share information about the dynamics of abuse, legal options, and reliefs available through court orders. Safety planning with victims of domestic violence is another crucial service that staff provides. Spanish speaking staff are available through the program.
In New Jersey, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act identifies domestic violence as a crime. Some examples of domestic violence under this Act are: harassment, assault, stalking, criminal mischief, terroristic threats, and sexual assault, among others.
This Act also provides the option for victims of domestic violence incidents to apply for an order of protection in civil court, also known as a Restraining Order. This application can be made in person at the time of the incident at the police department, or at the county courthouse Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.
When filing a restraining order, a victim will need to share specific information about the current incident, and any prior history of domestic violence.
A restraining order can:
- Prohibit the abuser from committing future acts of domestic violence against the victim
- Prohibit the abuser from coming to the victim’s residence, place of employment, or other specific locations
- Prohibit the abuser from having any contact with the victim or the victim’s relatives, in person, by phone, by third party, or any electronic means of communication
- Order the abuser to leave the house or apartment they share with the victim, even in the lease or mortgage is in the abuser’s name
- Award the victim temporary custody of the children, financial support and arrange for visitation
- Order the abuser to receive counseling services, complete evaluations, and other possible services
For more information and assistance with a restraining order, please call 973-267-7520, ext. 259. If you are calling in the evening or on a weekend, your call will be returned the next business day. The JBWS 24-hour helpline can be reached at 973-267-4763.
Filing Criminal Charges
While a victim may file for a temporary restraining order in the civil court system, they also have the option to file criminal charges. Criminal charges may be filed instead of a restraining order, or in addition to a restraining order. A victim may file criminal charges at the police station of the municipality where the incident occurred. The criminal court system requires a higher level of evidence, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” to prove that there has been a violation of the law. The abuser, if found guilty, may receive a criminal record, a jail sentence, a find, and/or term of probation. At times, a ‘no contact order’ may be issued in relation to criminal domestic violence charges. A no contact order is different than a restraining order, and may not provide the same level of protection as a restraining order.
The legal process can be complicated, confusing, and at times, frightening. JBWS has trained legal advocates to help victims of domestic violence understand and utilize our legal system. JBWS legal advocate can provide:
Accompaniment to court for restraining order and criminal court hearings
Information on the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
Assistance in preparing for court hearings
Referrals to affordable or pro bono legal services
Information about victims’ rights and reliefs under the law
Advocacy within the court system, police, and prosecutor’s office
To reach a legal advocate, call 973-267-7520, ext. 259. If you are calling in the evening or on weekends, your call will be returned the following business day.
Access to attorneys
The Battered Women's Legal Advocacy Project (BWLAP) is a partnership project of JBWS and the Morris County Bar Association to provide much needed representation to battered women seeking restraining orders. Within the dynamics of domestic violence, a victim may not have control of or access to family finances. BWLAP services are provided to victims of domestic violence based on eligibility.
BWLAP attorneys can help to guarantee safety by providing the necessary information, court preparation and accompaniment on an emergency basis. The scope of BWLAP is usually limited to representation for the final domestic violence hearing, and does not provide representation for divorce proceedings.