K.E.Z. v. J.H.

DOCKET NO. A-3172-21

Decided August 8, 2023

Submitted by New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division of New Jersey affirmed an entry of a Final Restraining Order after Defendant admitted to placing a GPS tracking device on plaintiff’s vehicle with no other acts or history of domestic violence.

In K.E.Z. v. J.H., At the commencement of the hearing, defendant stipulated that he previously had a dating relationship with plaintiff. He also stipulated to the predicate act of stalking, by placing a GPS tracking device on plaintiff’s car. The hearing proceeded on the sole issue of whether plaintiff needed the protection of an FRO.

Plaintiff testified she dated defendant for about four months. When plaintiff ended the relationship because she became involved in another romantic relationship, she testified defendant became “clingy” and “would overstep boundaries.” Following their breakup, defendant sent plaintiff a “few drunken sexting texts.” Defendant asked plaintiff if he could drop off a Christmas present he had bought for her. Plaintiff agreed but told him to leave it in her mailbox and that she did not want to see him or have anything to do with him.

The next month while doing maintenance on her car, plaintiff testified she found a GPS tracking device near the rear camera. After plaintiff sent defendant a text message asking him if he installed the GPS tracking device on her car, he admitted that he did so in November when her car was parked at his house. Plaintiff notified the police about the tracking device, and defendant was arrested for stalking on January 27, 2022.

Defendant is a police officer. Plaintiff testified she learned the prosecutor was negotiating an agreement to reinstate defendant to active-duty status, but he would not be prohibited from contacting her. Feeling “extremely unsafe and scared,” in “fear” of her life, and that no one was on her side, plaintiff filed a domestic violence complaint and requested a temporary restraining order.

Plaintiff testified she wanted an FRO even though defendant promised to never contact her again because he lied to her about when and where he actually installed the GPS tracking device on her car—at the hospital parking lot where she works—he knew where she lived, where she worked, and she believed defendant was “completely obsessed” with her.

The Court found that this act alone was enough to warrant the entry of an FRO because he was able to track plaintiff’s whereabouts for a period of approximately two months.  Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division found no basis to disturb the trial court’s findings and ruling.

The case is important to understand that even a single act of domestic violence, as defined by New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, which includes stalking. Placing a GPS tracking device on someone’s vehicle is likely stalking.  Usually the plaintiff needs to establish a history of domestic violence to obtain an FRO, but as seen above, it is not completely necessary. This police office, because of the entry of the FRO, is not prohibited form owning or possessing weapons and will likely lose his career because of this.

If you have a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against someone else or against yourself, contact the experienced attorneys at Hark & Hark today.  There are several things attorneys can do to bolster your credibility and damage the credibility of the other party. Do not wait until court because if you are the defendant and an FRO is put against you or if you are the plaintiff and your TRO is dismissed it is significantly more difficult to overturn the result! Contact Hark & Hark today! We help clients with domestic violence, FROs, TROs, prenups, divorce, custody, child support, alimony, adoptions, appeals and more.

In recognition of these trying financial times, we are reducing fees and working with clients to come up with manageable payment plans. Initial consultation is always free and we are available remotely.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing domestic violence charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties. We represent clients in all towns in New Jersey, including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington ,Haddon Heights ,Pine Hill ,Bellmawr ,Haddon Township , Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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