Can a person who has been accused of domestic violence file a restraining order? One judge in New Jersey who was presiding over a recent case involving a couple’s domestic dispute says no.
In some cases, domestic violence is a two-way street — in the heat of an argument or misunderstanding, both parties say things in anger or act out in violence, and the aftermath can have serious legal implications.
While a restraining order is one of the most common methods of protection against further abuse or violence, it may not be an option for those who have been accused of perpetrating domestic violence themselves, according to a the set of guidelines issued in the case of R.C v. R.W.
A Look at What Happened
In this case, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones issued an unpublished decision that prevented the instigating spouse from filing a restraining order request where the defendant may have been provoked into violent actions by the actions of the instigating spouse.
“Even the most non-violent, docile, and peace-loving of individuals may sometimes be provoked into acting impulsively, immaturely, and regrettably, in direct and immediate response to such instigation,” the judge stated.
The case involved a domestic dispute between a man, R.C., and a woman, R.W. They had been living together for several years and had two children together. R.W. stayed home to take care of the children while studying to work in a dental office, while R.C. worked and provided financial support for her and their children. The couple shared two cars and two cellphones, both in R.C.’s name, but R.W. used one phone and one car exclusively and helped make the car payments.
In an escalating fight in June of 2015, R.C. had the electricity turned off in the couple’s apartment and R.W. moved the two children into her mother’s house. She did not ask R.C. for child support and R.C. did not seek to retain custody of the children. He also let R.W. keep the car and cell phone she used.
One month later, R.C. confronted R.W. about potentially dating someone else, took her phone and found evidence that she had contacted another man. He then demanded the car back, and when R.W. objected, R.C. threw a brick through the window and shattered it. R.W. in turn threw a brick at R.C.’s car, causing serious damage.
R.C. retaliated with several more bricks, which destroyed R.W.’s car to the point of being unusable. R.C. filed a restraining order against R.W., but the Superior Court judge ruled that because R.C. had provoked R.W.’s actions, he could not seek protection against her.
In many domestic disputes, both spouses or partners may feel a degree of danger from the other, for fear that they might act violently or maliciously to ruin the other’s life. When love, marriage or children are involved, emotional reactions are not always calm and rational, and partners can respond with any number of actions.
If you and your partner have domestic issues, and you feel that you need protection from retaliation, contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, today.