No, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is civil in nature. A Final Restraining Order hearing is a civil proceeding. There is no crime or criminal offense in New Jersey of Domestic Violence.
For instance, if a husband hits his wife and she calls 911, the police will arrive.
If the police determine that the husband hit his wife, they will ask her if she wants to apply for a Temporary Restraining Order. That is not a criminal charge.
However, a husband under the scenario described above can also be charged with a criminal offense.
For instance, he can be charged with Simple Assault or Aggravated Assault depending on the severity of his wife’s injury. This would be in addition to a Temporary Restraining Order that his wife could apply for.
Therefore, a Domestic Violence case could have simultaneous criminal charges and a Temporary Restraining Order relating to the same facts and circumstances.
In this example, the husband could have criminal charges in either Municipal Court or Superior Court and be defending a Final Restraining Order in the Superior Court-Family Part at the same time.
It cannot be overstated how complex Domestic Violence is in the state of New Jersey.
The individual who is subject to a Temporary Restraining Order which could convert to a Final Restraining Order who may or may not also be charged with companion criminal offenses should consult with an experienced criminal attorney at the moment they are served with a Temporary Restraining Order and/or their companion criminal charges.