Is the COVID-19 Crisis Impacting NJ Domestic Violence Prosecutions?
Posted by Scott Gorman - May 29, 2020

At this point, just about everything has been impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in one way or another. Many businesses are closed or operating at limited capacity, many students are starting the fall semester at home, and the courts are operating at limited capacity as well.

So, what does this mean if you have been charged with domestic violence?

Domestic violence cases are unique because of the potential risks to the victim. In legitimate cases of domestic violence, victims can be a very real risk for serious harm, and it can be critical for the courts to step in to prevent further abuse. As a result, these cases are handled on an expedited basis, and victims can obtain temporary restraining orders (TROs) without having to confront their abusers.

The New Jersey Courts are Largely Closed, But Domestic Violence Cases are Still Moving Forward

On March 18, the New Jersey courts closed to the public indefinitely, “except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing trials.” These “emergent matters” included domestic violence TRO proceedings. While the courts resumed some in-person operations on June 22, only a “small number of judges and court staff are working on-site each day . . . [and] [c]ourthouses and court facilities are open only to attorneys, litigants, and members of the public with scheduled proceedings or appointments.” Crucially, however, the New Jersey courts’ website also states that, “You do not need an appointment to seek a domestic violence restraining order at a county courthouse.”

The New Jersey Herald has also reported that in New Jersey, “Municipal courts will continue to handle certain matters, such as applications for temporary restraining orders.”

However, beyond this initial TRO proceeding, individuals accused of domestic violence in New Jersey can still expect significant delays. This includes not only delays in their trial proceedings, but also delays in the proceedings in which they can challenge their TROs. Normally, these proceedings take place within seven to 10 days. Currently, however, The National Law Review reports substantial delays in scheduling for these proceedings — which means that alleged abusers may be forced to wait several weeks, if not several months, before they have the opportunity to tell their side of the story.

When Your Domestic Violence Case Moves Forward, You Will Need to Be Prepared

While domestic violence prosecutions in New Jersey may be delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, charges are not being dropped. So, if you have been charged with domestic violence, your case will go to court eventually. When it does, you will need to be prepared. This means that you must:

  • Have witnesses and other evidence ready so that you can challenge your TRO;
  • Determine which of the possible defenses to domestic violence apply in your case; and,
  • Speak with an experienced defense attorney who can make sure you are doing everything that you need to (including avoiding costly mistakes) in order to secure the best possible outcome in court.

Contact Hackensack Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Scott Gorman

Have you been accused of domestic violence while at home during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? If so, we encourage you to contact us immediately to discuss your case. For a free and confidential consultation with Hackensack domestic violence defense lawyer Scott Gorman, call 201-489-9199 or tell us how to reach you online now.

Published in Categories: Domestic Violence