Domestic Violence Statutes Protect Unborn Children
- September 27, 2013
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Pregnant women who have been victims of domestic violence in New Jersey can get restraining orders on behalf of their unborn children pursuant to an Ocean County Superior Court Judge’s ruling in May. Generally, the laws of New Jersey do not bestow unborn fetuses with any legal rights. As New Jersey law exists, a person does not typically receive any civil rights until they are born and become a legal “person.” Judge Lawrence Jones’s ruling in a recent domestic violence case seems to change the status of the law with regard to the rights of unborn children. Before his ruling, a pregnant woman who was awarded a restraining order against an abuser would have to wait until her child was born to seek an additional restraining order to protect the newborn child. Judge Lawrence ruled that women who are already seeking a restraining order for themselves should not have to wait until their child is born to petition the court to grant an additional restraining order on behalf of the child. Although, in his opinion, the Judge opines that the child’s restraining order begins to take effect only after birth. In his written opinion, Judge Lawrence states that the last place a victim of domestic violence would want to go upon giving birth, is to a courthouse to protect their newborn baby. The case before the Judge involved two teenagers from Ocean County. The 18 year old male was continuing to abuse his pregnant 17 year old girlfriend during her pregnancy because he disagreed with her choice to keep their baby. The Judge’s ruling begins to spark the debate as to whether New Jersey courts should begin to expand the rights of unborn children and it is yet unknown how this ruling will affect the rights of the unborn. This Judge was cautious to note that the restraining order for the child only becomes effective at birth, so it seems as if his ruling has more of a procedural impact than a substantive one. Yet, it does provide victims of domestic violence with an additional safeguard in the protection of themselves and their children. If you have been charged with or are the victim of domestic violence you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure your person and your rights are protected. For more information regarding domestic violence, assault, divorce or other criminal or family law matters in New Jersey HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.