Domestic Violence, Part Two: Minors and the Law
We recently provided you with information concerning obtaining a restraining order. However, age is an important factor when it comes to domestic violence law. In short, minors can qualify as victims under the law. However, judges will not issue final restraining orders against minor defendants.
When does a Minor Qualify as Domestic Violence Victim?
First, it is important to understand the definition of a minor here in New Jersey. For purposes of a domestic violence complaint, a minor is anyone under the age of eighteen. However, New Jersey does incorporate the term emancipated minors in considering domestic violence cases. An emancipated minor is “a person who is under 18 years of age but who has been married, has entered military service, has a child or is pregnant or has been previously declared by a court or an administrative agency to be emancipated.”
Here are the instances where a minor can qualify as a domestic violence act:
- Emancipated minors can qualify as victims and obtain restraining orders under all circumstances that qualify as acts of domestic violence
- Minors who are in a dating relationship with someone over the age of eighteen may qualify for restraining orders. They may not obtain a restraining order against anyone under eighteen.
Minor Defendants in Domestic Violence Cases
Restraining orders can be issued against emancipated minors. If the parties meet the qualified relationship status defined here, the judge will consider an application for a restraining order. However, dating relationships have a special prerequisite. Unless the defendant is an emancipated minor, he/she must be over eighteen for a restraining order to be entered against him/her. Although domestic violence cases are heard in Family Court, this type of case falls under the jurisdiction of Juvenile Court.
A Case Example
Sally and Michael both attend the same high school. Sally is a freshman cheerleader and dating the star quarterback, a senior student. Seventeen-year-old Michael offers to drive Sally home and takes a detour to “Make Out Lane.” He then forces her to commit a sexual act. Sally runs in the house and tells her mother. Mom grabs her keys and runs to the police department. The police help mother and daughter go through the steps to obtain a temporary restraining order. Ten days later, the Family Court judge refuses to finalize the restraining order. Restraining orders cannot be filed against non-emancipated minors.
The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone takes domestic violence very seriously. In addition to a civil complaint, you may be faced with a criminal action. If you are a victim or defendant in this type of case, it is important to secure experienced representation. Contact us to learn your rights.