Domestic Violence Between Child and Parent
L.B v. R.B. Superior Court Of New Jersey Appellate Division June 10, 2019 (Not approved for Publication)
Submitted by New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
R.B. (defendant) appeals an August 7, 2018 final restraining order (FRO) entered against him following the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Defendant (Son) lived in the plaintiff’s (parent’s) (L.B.) home. Several conflicts occurred between R.B. and his parents (L.B.). Dad alleged son pushed him and was verbally inappropriate while also punching holes in the walls. Mom and dad also alleged threats made constantly by defendant including, killing a family cat by shooting it and burning plaintiff’s mother house to the ground because it had no value. L.B. had a concern about the safety and well-being of members in the house since R.B. comes home at late hours intoxicated. Parents testified there had been an altercation where defendant closed the door on his mom’s hand. However, R.B. states he did not do it on purpose. Defendant testified these conflicts with L.B. stem from their berating him and their disapproval of defendant’s girlfriend. In oral opinion, the trial Judge noted that in order for any defendant to be guilty of harassment there must be intent to harass another. Harassment is defined as: “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 or subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so.” The judge ruled such acts did take place and based his decision on L.B.’s testimony. However, the court made no specific factual findings and made no finding that the son possessed the requisite “purpose” to harass. The trial court also ruled that the FRO was necessary since there was an immediate danger or further abuse to protect the plaintiffs. However, the Trial Judge merely found there was a “risk of future conflict”, and not an actual imminent threat.
The Appellate Court’s review is bound by the trial court’s findings when supported by adequate, substantial, credible evidence. The appellate court reversed here because a) the trial court failed to factually determine that the parents had proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, their son had in fact committed one of the predicated acts in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a). The Appellate Court found the trial Judge made no finding of fact that L.B. acted with the purpose to harm and no such finding can be inferred from the evidence. The FRO must be also reversed because the judge did not find restraints were necessary to protect the plaintiff from immediate danger or further abuse. The appellate panel also found Mom and Dad failed to prove the need for a FRO. The Appellate Court reversed and remanded to the trial court to vacate the FRO.
At Hark & Hark we understand how serious TRO and FROs are. Domestic Violence restraining Orders can affect you for the rest of your life especially with trying to find a job. At Hark & Hark we have handled many restraining order hearing and the related criminal charges for plaintiffs and defendants. Call us at (866) 427-5529 if you have any questions or concerns or fill out the online questionnaire and it will be mailed to us immediately. Mr. Hark does payment plans that are affordable and convenient for all of our clients.