A Clinton Township man called the police to respond to his residence, claiming that his girlfriend had attacked him and he punched her in the face to defend himself. Upon arrival to the residence, the responding officer noticed blood on the floor, on the door jamb of the front door, and the door jamb leading from the living room to the kitchen. The officer also noticed blood on the girlfriend’s face and shirt from what appeared to be a bloody nose. The girlfriend indicated that she and her boyfriend had gotten into an argument, during which he pushed her to the ground, causing her to get a bloody nose.
At that point, it appears that the officer determined the girlfriend was actually the victim. She was transported to the local hospital for treatment. She declined a temporary restraining order (“TRO”).
The boyfriend was ultimately charged with domestic violence simple assault. For more information, see the Hunterdon County Democrat article entitled, “Clinton Twp. man arrested on domestic violence, assault charges.”
When officers respond to a domestic violence scene, they must advise the victim of his/her rights, including the right to file a TRO. The victim may also file a criminal complaint with or without filing a TRO. If the victim declines to do so, but the officer feels that there is probable cause, the officer can file a criminal complaint (as was the case here). The officer cannot, however, file a TRO – that must be done by the victim.
In this case, because the only charge pending is domestic violence simple assault, the defendant will likely be prosecuted in the local municipal court. Depending on his history, if any, he is facing a maximum of 6 months in the county jail, along with fines and costs, and any other domestic violence conditions that the court sees fit to impose.
Were there to have been a TRO, it would have proceeded differently. Within 10 days of the filing of a TRO, a hearing is held at the Superior Court (County) – Family Division – to determine whether the circumstances warrant the entry of a final restraining order (“FRO”).
The outcome of the criminal complaint has no bearing on the outcome of the restraining order hearing and vice versa.