In the context of temporary restraining orders (TROs), the definition of the dating relationship is of the utmost importance.  Even if a formal dating relationship does not exist, it is still possible for a supposed victim of domestic violence to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) as a result of ongoing communication with the alleged harasser.

This means if the individual who was supposedly harassed received and returned text messages with the other party, there may be solid legal footing in the context of domestic violence law to obtain a TRO.  This conclusion stems from a recent Superior Court of New Jersey case won by a plaintiff insisting text messages were justification for a TRO, C.C., Plaintiff-Respondent, v. J.A.H., Defendant-Appellant., — A.3d —- (2020) WL 2108186.

In other words, a formal date between two individuals does not have to occur in order to obtain a TRO.  Every individual living in the greater New Jersey area and beyond should understand text messages, written letters, phone calls and other interactions outside of traditional in-person dates set the stage for a potential TRO.

What Constitutes a Relationship in the Context of Domestic Violence Law?

Nowadays, it is possible to instantly interact with someone you barely know or do not know at all in a traditional in-person manner.  Text messages, email and social media present such opportunities for instant and ongoing engagement.  However, just because an individual does not interact with you in an in-person manner does not mean he or she cannot obtain a TRO to prevent subsequent interactions.  If the person in question fears for his or her safety due to a supposed aggressor’s words, be it in a text message, email or another medium of communication, a TRO may be obtain depending on the substance and volume of the communications.

Most people are surprised to learn minimal interactions are necessary to obtain a TRO simply because there is a common assumption that a formal relationship must be necessary in order for a restraining order to be considered.  As long as a set of facts constitutes a relationship in the context of domestic violence law, the TRO can be granted, even in the absence of a single formal date between the parties in question.

The Basics of TROs

TROs are orders issued by judges who agree demanding circumstances are present that excuse the supposed victim from personally appearing, ultimately providing protection from the alleged aggressor.   The official TRO standard is as follows: “When necessary to protect the life health or well-being of the individual in question.”

Once the TRO is granted, the supposed abuser is barred from returning to the site of the domestic violence and other specific locations where the plaintiff is likely to be located.  Furthermore, the aggressor is barred from interacting with the victim and his or her family in any manner.

Text Messages Constitute a Modern Day Relationship

Everyone who interacts with people by way of text messages and email should understand these interactions may constitute relationships of sorts.  If enough messages are exchanged between the parties, a judge may determine those interactions constitute a relationship, even if a traditional dating relationship does not exist.  This means merely exchanging a string of text messages with another party may present the opportunity for that party to obtain a TRO.  This minimal interpersonal bonding does not have to include any formal dating or sexual relationship in order for a TRO to be granted.

The Bianchi Law Group is on Your Side

Have you been accused of Domestic Violence or another offense like Harassment? Are you a plaintiff or defendant in a Domestic Violence Restraining Order proceeding in New Jersey? We are former prosecutors who aggressively represent our clients in all types of Domestic Violence cases.  Contact us today and will respond promptly as we are available 24/7.  You can contact the Bianchi Law Group by dialing 862.210.8570 or filling out our convenient online contact form.