Final Restraining Order with Lack of Domestic Violence History Between the Parties.

N.D. v. E.L.H.

Docket No. A-3849-18T2

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In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division considered whether Final Restraining Order (FRO) was entered properly against defendant without having a history of domestic violence between the parties.

In N.D., the plaintiff and defendant and were in an on-and-off relationship for approximately sixteen months. They did not live together but exchanged keys to each other’s residences. After about a year of dating, plaintiff broke up with defendant over the phone. That same night, before she had an opportunity to retrieve her spare house key from defendant, plaintiff awoke to find him standing at the foot of her bed. Defendant had used his key and unhooked the chain guard on her door to enter the house without plaintiff’s permission. Plaintiff did not call the police on this occasion, because defendant was crying, and she did not believe at that time he posed a threat to her. However, she made defendant return her key and warned him never to show up again unannounced or she would call the police.

The couple thereafter reconciled until they broke up for a second time. Defendant arrived at plaintiff’s door unannounced. Plaintiff did not answer the door when he knocked. Defendant testified that he became upset after seeing another man in the house through the “halfway opened” window blinds, though plaintiff insisted that the blinds were always closed. At this point, defendant forced his way into the house with his shoulder, busting open the locked door and breaking the doorframe. Plaintiff attempted to push him out the door, but defendant fought his way back inside two more times. Plaintiff began throwing objects at him in an effort to chase him out.

After plaintiff was able to force him outside and shut the door, defendant walked over to her car and kicked the driver’s side mirror off the car. Plaintiff informed him she was calling the police and defendant got in his car and left.

Plaintiff filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) which was granted.  At the final restraining order (FRO) hearing, the Court concluded defendant’s conduct constituted burglary, a predicate act of domestic violence in New Jersey.  The Judge found that defendant’s conduct was sufficiently egregious to warrant protection by an FRO, even though there had not been a history of domestic violence, as required by the domestic violence statute.

Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s decision, finding there was more than ample evidence that defendant had committed a predicate act of domestic violence and that the FRO was necessary to protect the plaintiff.

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!

At Hark & Hark, we help clients with divorce, custody, domestic violence, child support, alimony issues and more.  In recognition of these trying financial times due to COVID-19, we are reducing fees and working with clients to come up with manageable payment plans. While we combat Coronavirus, we are offering special deals for first responders and individuals currently working in the medical field.  Initial consultation is always free and we are available remotely.

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any town in New Jersey including East Windsor Township, Ewing Township, Hamilton Township, Borough of Hightstown, Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, Lawrence Township, Borough of Pennington, Princeton, Robbinsville Township, City of Trenton, and West Windsor Township.

Stay safe.

Michael J. Collis, Esquire

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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