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Military & Veteran Lawyer > Blog > Criminal > Defining The Phrase “Predicate Act Of Domestic Violence”

Defining The Phrase “Predicate Act Of Domestic Violence”


Before a judge can grant a plaintiff a temporary restraining order (T.R.O) or a final restraining order (F.R.O), the plaintiff must prove his or her case. Among other things, a plaintiff needs to show that the defendant committed a “predicate act of domestic violence.”  It is important to note that, in a domestic violence case, a plaintiff can convince the court that a defendant committed a predicate act of domestic violence by showing that there is more than a 50% chance that his or her claim is true. Such an evidentiary standard is known as “preponderance of the evidence.” This evidentiary standard is different from that of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which usually applies to criminal cases.

What Is the Role of Restraining Orders in New Jersey?

New Jersey courts understand that domestic violence victims need protection. Because of this, courts grant temporary restraining orders or final restraining orders to deserving plaintiffs or victims. Among many other things, the court can order a defendant not to contact a plaintiff or victim physically, via calls, texts, or even email, through a restraining order.

A restraining order can protect;

  • a spouse or a former spouse
  • a current or former member of a household
  • an individual that is currently romantically involved with someone or dating someone or an individual who was romantically involved with someone or dating someone
  • an individual who has a child with someone or will soon have a child with someone

Restraining orders can have severe consequences for defendants. Therefore, if you believe the court wrongfully served you with either a T.R.O or F.R.O, reach out to a qualified attorney who can help you fight against the restraining order.

What Is a “Predicate Act of Domestic Violence?”

This refers to an act of domestic violence committed by a defendant that gives a plaintiff the right to request that the judge issue a restraining order. In New Jersey, quite a number of acts are considered predicate acts of domestic violence. These acts include;

  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal trespass
  • Burglary
  • Kidnapping
  • Harassment
  • Robbery
  • Terroristic threats
  • Criminal coercion
  • Cyber-harassment
  • Stalking

In New Jersey A Domestic Violence Victim Does Not Need To Have Told Someone About the Abuse for Him or Her To Establish a Predicate Act of Domestic Violence

In the case of I.E.A., v. M.A. decided on December 16, 2020; the Appellate Division overturned a ruling that the lower court had made. Among other things, the lower court claimed that the plaintiff failed to report prior abuse and took some of the defendant’s initial violent acts as jokes. These reasons and others made the lower court refuse to grant the plaintiff a final restraining order. The appellate court reversed this ruling.

Defendants need to keep the above ruling in mind to ensure they don’t use a victim’s failure to report prior abuse to someone as a defense in court. If you believe the court wrongfully served you with a restraining order, allow your attorney to prepare strong defenses for your case.

Contact Citizen Soldier Law Today

If you need help fighting a restraining order or know someone who does, contact the New Jersey criminal lawyers at Citizen Soldier Law today to set up a consultation.



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