When determining whether to grant an FRO pursuant to the PDVA, the judge must first determine whether the plaintiff has proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant committed one of the predicate acts referenced in N.J.S.A.2C:25-19a, which incorporates harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, as conduct constituting domestic violence.Silver v. Silver[AR1] , 387N.J. Super. 112, 125-26 (App. Div. 2006).

The judge mustconstrue any such acts in light of the parties’ history to better “understand the totality of the circumstances of the relationship and to fully evaluate the reasonableness of the victim’s continued fear of the perpetrator.” Kanaszka v. Kunen,313 N.J. Super. 600, 607 (App. Div. 1998); See also N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29a(1).”[I]n making their determinations, trial courts can con sider evidence of a defendant’s prior abusive acts, regardless of whether those acts have been the subject of adomestic violence adjudication.”Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. Super.394, 405 (1998).If a predicate offense is proven,  the judge must thenassess “whether a restraining order is necessary, upon an evaluation of the facts set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(a)(1) to – 29(a)(6), to protect the victim from an immediate danger or to prevent further abuse.” J.D. v. M.D.F., 207 N.J. 458, 475-76 (2011) (quoting Silver, supra, 387 N.J. Super. at 126-27).

Many domestic violence complaints are based upon alleged harassment.  N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4c provides that a person commits harassment “if, withpurpose to harass another, he . . . [e]ngages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts withpurpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.”  Our Supreme Court has held the following:

A violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4c requires proof of a course of conduct. That may consist of conduct that is alarming or it may be a series of repeated acts if done with the purpose to alarm or seriously annoythe intended victim.In interpreting[N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4c], which refers to seriousannoyance or alarm, this Court has explained that the phrase means to weary, worry, trouble or offend.

[J.D., supra, 207 N.J. at 478(quotingState v. Hoffman, 149 N.J. 564, 581 (1997)) (internal quotation marks omitted).]

To determine whether there was a course of harassing conduct, the judge must assess the totality of the circumstances. Cesare, supra, 154 N.J. at 404. The judge may infer a purpose to harass from the evidence presented, and “[c]ommon sense and experiencemay inform that determination.”Hoffman, supra, 149N.J. at  577. “In determining whether one’s conduct is likely to cause the required annoyance or alarm to the victim, that person’s past conduct toward the victim and the relationship’s history must be taken into account.” Id. at 585. [AR1]Do you want the case names underlined or italicized?  Upon review of the other blogs on our website, the case names were italicized.