NJ Laws That Punish Elder Abuse

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

NJ 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. There are also additional criminal and civil actions that can be filed against an abuser which are very effective. I’ll identify and try to simplify these laws and regulations for you on this page.

Laws That Protect the New Jersey Aging Population

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 is a series of laws found in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. A violation is a criminal act.  It prohibits the mistreatment of elderly persons in several specified ways.  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 an Elderly Victim of Abuse Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and Other 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.

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 allows a representative of a victim to seek protection for the 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 the 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.

The Adult Protective Services Act of New Jersey

It is important to know that the Adult Protective Services Act applies to the abuse of older persons living in the community whether alone or with others, such as family members.  (NJS 52:27D-407)  It does not apply to individuals residing in institutional facilities, such as residential health care facilities, assisted living residences, nursing homes, or boarding homes or “any other facility or living arrangement subject to licensure by, operated by, or under contract with, a State department agency.” (NJS 52:27D-407).

Institutionalized persons 60 years or older benefit from provisions found in the Mandatory Adult Abuse and Exploitation Reporting Law, NJSA 52:27G-7.1 et seq.  This law applies to individuals 60 years of age and older who reside in a facility.

The law addresses the relationship between an elderly person and his/her caretaker. A caretaker is a person employed by a facility to provide care of services to an elderly person, including the facility’s administrator.  Institutions addressed by that law include public and private facilities that offer health or related services to elders and are subject to regulations, inspection and government supervision, such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, convalescent homes, rehabilitation facilities, residential health care facilities, veterans’ hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, mental hospitals, mental retardation facilities, day care facilities and medical day care facilities.  NJSA 52:27G-2

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.

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.

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 and a face to face meeting with the alleged vulnerable person will be conducted by a trained social worker. This interview is private and confidential. This social worker 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 generally take action to safeguard the welfare of the person until a protective environment and support system is put in place.

The existence of Adult Protective Services agencies is 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.

You need to understand that APS has several practical and legal limitations which may frustrate those concerned with the safety and well-being of an elderly person. If you become frustrated, 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. I welcome you to call me personally toll-free (855) 376-5291 or email me at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.


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:


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 County Board of Social Services

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

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 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

Resources for Independent Living

614 E. Landis Avenue
Vineland, NJ 08360

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

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 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 County Protective Services, Inc.

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

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 County Board of Social Services

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

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

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 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 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 County Board of Social Services

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

Salem County Office on Aging

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

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 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

Catholic Community Services

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

Warren County Division of Senior Services

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


Fredrick P. Niemann Esq.

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 case and help you evaluate whether an actionable case of elder abuse exists.


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

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