New Jersey Elder Abuse Laws

How the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and the Adult Protective Services Act Applies to the Elderly in New Jersey

Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Elder Abuse Attorney

iStock_000009822030XSmallNJ has many laws against elder abuse and financial exploitation.  The two primary laws are the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and the Adult Protective Services Act.  I’ll try to simplify these laws and regulations for you on this page.

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 is a series of laws found in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. It prohibits the mistreatment of elderly persons in a number of specified ways.  A violation is a criminal act.  The law is long and involved but starts off with a series of definitions.  Definitions are always important when you’re reading and interpreting laws.

Definition of a Victim of Elder Abuse Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 and Civil Laws

A victim of domestic violence is defined as a person (it’s gender neutral) over the age of 18, or an emancipated minor, who is abused by a spouse, a person with whom the victim has a child in common, any former or present household member, or a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.  As you can see, the definition is quite broad, and covers many persons previously excluded from the law’s protection, such as those abused by a live-in caretaker, non blood relatives (such as sons-in-law), etc who are or were former household members.

Definition of a Vulnerable Adult Under the NJ Adult Protective Act

A “VULNERABLE ADULT” means a person 18 years of age or older who resides in a community setting and who, because of a physical or mental illness, disability or deficiency, lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make, communicate, or carry out decisions concerning his/her well-being and is the subject of abuse, neglect or exploitation.   A person shall not be deemed to be the subject of abuse, neglect or exploitation or in need of protective services for the sole reason that the person is being furnished nonmedical remedial treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone or in accordance with a recognized religious method of healing in lieu of medical treatment, and in accordance with the tenets and practices of the person’s established religious tradition.

Laws That Protect the New Jersey Aging Population

Types of Abuse Covered Under NJ Law

The Act covers physical, sexual or emotional abuse that puts a victim in physical fear.

Procedure to Initiate a Complaint for Domestic Violence

A victim or his/her representative may file a complaint alleging domestic violence with the Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  Each county has a Superior Court. Your County Superior Court is generally located in the municipality where your county government Board of Chosen Freeholders is located.  The filing of a civil complaint does not prevent the filing of a criminal complaint for the same alleged act of abuse.  You can also go to your local police department and file a complaint for domestic violence.

It is important to note that NJ law has provisions for a representative of a victim to seek protection for another person who is being abused, for example, a distant child for a parent or grandparent in an abusive environment in New Jersey.  You don’t need an attorney to file a complaint. In our state, a temporary restraining order can be entered against the accused abuser even before a final decision is reached. This restraining order will be granted by either a judge of the Superior Court, family Part or Domestic Violence Hearing Officer.

What happens if a restraining order is needed on a weekend or after hours when the Superior Court is closed? In this case you can call your local police department who can/will assist in obtaining a temporary restraining order from a municipal court judge.

New Jersey Domestic Violence Laws are detailed and procedurally complex. But don’t give up. I have written an entire website entitled “Domestic Violence Lawyer in NJ”. It discusses the Domestic Violence law(s) in great detail and is written in simple English. To learn more (CLICK HERE)

The Adult Protective Services Act of New Jersey

The New Jersey Adult Protective Services Act (APS) was adopted to protect the safety and well being of the elderly and other adults with disabilities living in the community, who are in danger of being mistreated or neglected; and/or are unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from harm; and/or have no one to assist them.

The New Jersey Adult Protective Services Act (APS) became law on February 7, 1994.  If an APS worker determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that a person has or is likely to become a vulnerable adult and/or  his/her legal guardian consents, the APS worker can provide or arrange for  protective services , including making referrals to State, County and local agencies, hospitals or organizations.

Reporting the Abuse of an Elderly Person to Law Enforcement Under New Jersey Law

Reporting suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult living in the community to APS is voluntary in New Jersey.  If a report is made, it will generally contain the name and address of the vulnerable adult the name and address of the caretaker, if any, the nature and possible extent of the vulnerable adult’s injury or condition as a result of abuse, neglect or exploitation; and any other information that the person making the report believes may be helpful.  A person who makes a report to APS, provides information regarding abuse of a vulnerable adult, or testifies at a proceeding, is granted immunity, unless he or she is acting in bad faith or with malice.

Once contacted an investigation will be initiated within 72 hours. A face to face meeting with the alleged vulnerable person will be conducted by a trained social worker. This interview is private and confidential. They will create a preliminary assessment and opinion on whether the person does or does not have sufficient understanding and/or capacity to make, communicate or carry out decisions concerning his or her well being because of a physical or mental illness, disability and is the likely subject of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

If such a finding is made the agency will take action to safeguard the welfare of the person until a protective environment and support system is put in place.

But be assured that APS has a number of practical and legal limitations which may frustrate those concerned with the safety and well-being of an elderly person. If this is you then call me immediately! Our firm has significant experience in the area of elder abuse as well as working with APS, and can help you protect the person you so deeply care about. Call me personally toll-free (855) 376-5291 or email me: fniemann@hnlawfirm.com

The existence of Adult Protective Services agencies are mandated within each County of New Jersey, which receives funding and coordination through the Division of Aging and Community offices.  Each County agency receives and investigates reports of adult abuse, exploitation and or neglect in the community.

For example;  Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and Mercer County each has a designated  county “Adult Protective Services Agency” as does each of the remaining 18 counties in New Jersey.  You can “Google”, “Bing” or “Yahoo” Adult Protective Services and the name of your county to find the nearest agency in your county.

New Jersey’s Laws on Elder
Abuse and Financial Exploitation

Here is the contact information for Adult Protective Services in each of the 21 counties of New Jersey:

http://www.state.nj.us/health/senior/aps.shtml

Atlantic
Atlantic County Division of Intergenerational Services

Shoreview Building, Room 210
101 South Shore Road
Northfield, NJ 08225
Phone: 609-645-5965
After Hrs: 1-888-426-9243 or 911

Bergen
Bergen County Board of Social Services

218 Route 17 North
Rochelle Park, NJ 07662
Phone: 201-368-4300
After Hrs: 1-800-624-0275

Burlington
Burlington County Board of Social Services

Human Services Facility
795 Woodlane Road
Mount Holly, NJ 08060
Phone: 609-518-4793 Ext. 4797
After Hrs: 911

Camden
Camden County Board of Social Services

600 Market Street, Lower Level
Camden, NJ 08102
Phone: 856-225-8191
After Hrs: contact local police or 911

Cape May
Cape May County Board of Social Services

4005 Route 9 South
Rio Grande, NJ 08242
Phone: 609-886-6200, ask for Intake Social Worker
After Hrs: contact local police or 911

Cumberland 
Resources for Independent Living

614 E. Landis Avenue
Vineland, NJ 08360

Phone: 856-825-0255
After Hrs: contact local police or 911

Essex
FOCUS, Hispanic Center for Human Dev., Inc.

441-443 Broad St.
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: 866-903-6287
After Hrs: 911, local police, first aid or hospital

Gloucester
Gloucester County Board of Social Services

400 Hollydell Drive
Sewell, NJ 08080
Phone: 856-582-9200, 856-256-2209, 856-256-2280
After Hrs: 1-800-648-0132

Hudson
Hudson County Protective Services, Inc.

6100 Adams Street
West New York, NJ 07093
Phone: 201-537-5631

Hunterdon
Hunterdon County Department of Human Services

Division of Social Services
P.O. Box 2900
Flemington, NJ 08822-2900
Phone: 908-788-1300
After Hrs: 911

Mercer
Mercer County Board of Social Services

200 Woolverton Street
Trenton, NJ 08650
Phone: 609-989-4320
After Hrs: 911

Middlesex
Family and Children Services

191 Bath Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
Phone: 732-745-3635
After Hrs: 911 or local police, 732-745-3635 to leave a message for the next business day

Monmouth
Family and Children Services of Monmouth County

191 Bath Ave.
Long Branch, NJ 07740
Phone: 732-531-9191
After Hrs: 911 or local police, 732-531-9191 to leave a message for the next bsiness day

Morris
Morris County Office of Temporary Assistance

340 West Hanover Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
Phone: 973-326-7282
After Hrs: 911 or sheriff’s comm. ctr. at 973-285-2900

Ocean
Ocean County Board of Social Services

1027 Hooper Avenue
P.O. Box 547
Toms River, NJ 08754
Phone: 732-286-5933, 732-286-5929
After Hrs: 732-240-6100, 609-693-5834

Passaic
Passaic County Board of Social Services

80 Hamilton Street
Paterson, NJ 07505-2057
Phone: 973-881-2616
After Hrs: 973-345-2676

Salem
Salem County Office on Aging

98 Market Street
Salem, NJ 08079
Phone: 856-339-8622
After Hrs: call 911

Somerset
Somerset County Board of Social Services

73 East High Street
Somerville, NJ 08876-1144
Phone: 908-526-8800
After Hrs: 1-800-287-3607

Sussex
Sussex County Division of Social Services

P.O. Box 218
83 Spring Street
Newton, NJ 07860
Phone: 973-383-3600 Ext. 5170, 973-383-3600 Ext. 5150
Afer Hrs: 911 or local police

Union
Catholic Community Services

505 South Avenue E
Cranford, NJ 07016
Phone: 908-497-3902
After Hrs: 911 or local police

Warren
Warren County Division of Senior Services

165 County Route 519 South
Belvidere, NJ 07823
Phone: 908-475-6591
After Hrs: 911 or local police

Fred Niemann, Elder Abuse Lawyer in New Jersey

Fred Niemann, Elder Abuse Lawyer in New Jersey

Have questions about elder abuse laws in New Jersey or a case involving elder abuse & adult protective service in New Jersey?  Contact Fredrick P. Niemann, a NJ elder abuse law attorney toll-free at

(855) 376-5291

or email him at

fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.

He will sit and discuss your particular case and help you evaluate whether an actionable case of elder abuse exists.

NJ LAWS THAT ADDRESS ELDER ABUSE & FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION

Adult Protective Services | Report of Elder Abuse in NJ
Domestic Violence Act