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Sperling v. Teplitsky

July 11, 1996


O'hagan, Robert W., J. S. C.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'hagan



Plaintiff, Jill Sperling, was granted a temporary restraining order against Daniel Teplitsky, as a result of an incident occurring on January 19, 1996. At the final hearing, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29, defendant alleged the court did not have jurisdiction, contending that his actions occurred in New York City and not within Monmouth County, New Jersey, and further that he and Ms. Sperling did not have any type of domestic relationship whatsoever since 1991. At the hearing, it was established that the parties began dating in 1988, and terminated their relationship in 1990, according to plaintiff, although defendant contended that the dating relationship ended in 1991. Stated more directly, defendant argues the court does not have jurisdiction unless the alleged act of domestic violence occurred within the boundaries of Monmouth County. Secondly, he maintains that since the parties concluded their dating relationship at the latest in 1991, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (The Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to-33, has no application to events occurring on January 19, 1996. Rather, he maintains, plaintiff is left to remedies available to her pursuant to the Code of Criminal Justice even if it is determined the incident occurred in New Jersey. Although defendant's contention regarding the situs of the alleged violence has no merit, the court concludes that the passage of some four plus years (five plus years according to plaintiff) following the termination of the dating relationship mandates the denial of the final restraining order, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to-33, under the circumstances of this case.

The essential facts underlying this dispute are as follows:

On January 19, 1996, defendant, Daniel Teplitsky, kicked a car, then occupied by plaintiff and owned by her live-in boyfriend, at least ten times, resulting in numerous and sundry dents to the vehicle. The incident occurred at night when the car was parked in a dimly lit area. While the defendant kicked the car he expressed no harsh or angry words towards plaintiff. At the time of the incident, defendant knew the car was owned by plaintiff's live-in boyfriend, with whom he had an ongoing dispute regarding business issues not in any way related to plaintiff. Plaintiff maintained the incident occurred in Marlboro Township, Monmouth County, while defendant contended that the incident occurredin New York City. Defendant argues the totality of the circumstances surrounding the happening of the incident corroborate his version that the incident occurred in New York City and not in Marlboro Township.

It must be understood initially that the remedies available pursuant to the Act are civil, as opposed to criminal, in nature. Roe v. Roe, 253 N.J. Super. 418, 428, 601 A.2d 1201 (App. Div. 1992). With certain exceptions such as zoning disputes, for instance, civil actions ordinarily may be brought in the jurisdiction where the defendant can be served with a complaint without regard to where the incident occurred. R. 4:4-4; See Berger v. Paterson Veterans Taxi, 244 N.J. Super. 200, 204-05, 581 A.2d 1344 (App. Div. 1990). Defendant apparently equates the statute in question with those statutes imposing criminal remedies and/or sanctions. N.J.S.A. 2C:1-1 to 98-4. For obvious reasons, state prosecution of a violation of a criminal statute must be conducted in the state where the criminal conduct occurred. State v. Sanders, 230 N.J. Super. 233, 236, 553 A.2d 354 (App. Div. 1989); See N.J.S.A. 2C:1-3.

The Legislature anticipated the issue raised herein by defendant, declaring in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28 that

a plaintiff may apply for relief under this section in a court having jurisdiction over the place where the alleged act of domestic violence occurred, where the defendant resides, or where the plaintiff resides . . . N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28.

Further, it is to be noted that our court rules provide

R. 5:7A(f).

Both parties are residents of Marlboro Township in Monmouth County. Therefore, the court has jurisdiction to resolve the issue even if the incident occurred in New York City, as alleged by defendant.

The more troubling issue presented in this case concerns the gap or time which separated the incident in question and the Conclusion of the dating relationship between the parties. Since the parties last had a dating relationship, as earlier noted, some four to five years prior to January 19, 1996, as alleged by defendant and plaintiff respectively, it is concluded that the statute to prevent domestic violence has no application. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to-33. This Conclusion is irresistible in a situation where the parties were never married, had no children together, and have had minimal contact since 1991.

Before specifically addressing the issues underlying this case, certain basics should be stated. Certainly domestic violence cannot be tolerated in any civilized society. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to 33; Grant v. Wright, 222 N.J. Super. 191, 198, 536 A.2d 319 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 111 N.J. 562 (1988). Perhaps as the result of custom, practice, societal mores or other inappropriate reasons, in the past, victims of domestic violence were not adequately protected by the police, the courts, or society as a whole. See Corrente v. Corrente, 281 N.J. Super. 243, 247, 657 A.2d 440 (App. Div. 1995); N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to 33. Indeed, the Legislature found that thousands of persons in a domestic setting were victimized by acts of domestic violence on a yearly basis. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-18. Considering the underlying family dynamics along with competing pressures and issues existing in families, the Legislature determined more protection must be afforded victims of domestic violence. The Act was enacted, with the expressed intent that courts as well as law enforcement promptly and appropriately offer protection to victims of ...

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