Final Restraining Order Dismissed Though the Plaintiff was Physically Assaulted
Docket No. A-5354-18T1
Decided May 11, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey Domestic Violence Law Firm, Hark and Hark.
In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division considered whether Final Restraining Order (FRO) was properly dismissed although the plaintiff was physically assaulted, the parties lacked a history of domestic violence.
In P.E.O., the plaintiff and defendant were a married same sex couple. The defendant was a black belt in martial arts and a kickboxing instructor. Plaintiff believed defendant began a romantic relationship with a coworker. Plaintiff called the coworker approximately 70 times. Plaintiff also posted on the coworker’s daughter’s Instagram page “[w]hy don’t you ask your father why he’s sleeping with a married woman.”
Defendant, after seeing the post, met plaintiff at her home and confronted her. Plaintiff testified defendant cornered her, punched her in the face and chest, and would closed the door not allowing her to leave the room for 30 seconds. Defendant disputed that she punched plaintiff but admitted to closing the door and preventing her from leaving, as well as some kind of physical altercation.
Plaintiff had hospital records indicating a concussion. Plaintiff made a police report and applied for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against defendant. During the final restraining order (FRO) hearing, the plaintiff testified that she was afraid of the defendant after the incident.
The trial judge denied entry of an FRO against the defendant because the parties did not have a history of domestic violence and defendant had vacated the marital home. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that an FRO was necessary for her protection.
The Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s decision. In its decision, the Appellate Division found that the trial judge put too much emphasis on the fact that the parties lacked a history of domestic violence. A history of domestic violence is not completely necessary for an FRO, only a finding of a predicate act and that the FRO is necessary for the plaintiff’s protection.
If you are a victim or have been accused of harassment, stalking, assault, or something similar, contact Hark & Hark immediately. Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) and Final Restraining Orders (FRO) are serious matters and can have significant consequences. Hearings are also scheduled very quickly, as these matters are considered emergent. There is often little time to act. Call now!
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Michael J. Collis, Esquire