New Jersey Expands Sexual Assault Survivor Protections

In March 2014, the entire United States NFL-fan base watched Ray Rice hit and drag his then fiancée at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. What followed was a firestorm of media and social pressure to adjust the way the NFL—and New Jersey—discuss and address sexual assault and domestic violence.

Shortly after the incident, legislators introduced a new bill in the New Jersey Legislature. The new bill expanded the Domestic Violence Protections Act to include sexual assault, with new protections afforded to survivors. The new bill allows more people to qualify for domestic violence and sexual assault restraining orders.

The bill also allows, “victims of sexual assault-related acts, who were not dating their attackers, to access the courts and file for stay-away restraining orders without being required to first file criminal charges. The act also expands sexual assault coverage to include inappropriate texting and online activities, highly prevalent behaviors that have gone unchecked in a digital society.”

The expanded protections are important for survivors because earlier adaptions of the law limited protections. Survivors of sexual assault qualified for a restraining order only if, “the sexual assault occurs within the context of a relationship included within the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act; and/or The sexual assault case was tried in criminal court and resulted in a conviction of the offender, as determined by Nicole’s Law.” Studies suggest that the original bill’s language excluded, “80% of survivors from being eligible to receive the safety provided by restraining orders.”

New Jersey is part of a growing legal trend throughout the country. Twenty-three other states offer similar restraining order protections for sexual assault survivors, including Texas, Montana, South Dakota, and recently Pennsylvania.

The video of Ray Rice sparked a conversation that is now prevalent in both the spotlight and the courtroom. The new protections also highlight the importance and value of knowledgeable and devoted legal counsel. Regardless of your situation and case, knowing your rights and the available options is crucial to getting a desired result in the courtroom. David P. Schroth has an immense amount of experience trying an array of cases. That experience endows him with the ability to find the right answers to your legal question. Contact

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