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Atlantic County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of the relationship. Unfortunately, the ones closest to us are often the ones who can hurt us the worst, and therefore, arguments between couples can be some of the most tumultuous and can quickly become heated.

The domestic violence attorneys at the Law Firm of John J. Zarych know how sensitive and personal these matters are and have represented both victims and those assumed of domestic violence. No matter if you are the victim or the accused, you deserve to have the best possible legal team behind you. To schedule a no-cost and confidential initial case evaluation, call (609) 616-4956 today or contact us online.

What is Domestic Violence?

There are eighteen criminal acts that when committed upon a person who is protected under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991:

  1. Homicide,
  2. Assault,
  3. Terroristic threats,
  4. Kidnapping,
  5. Criminal restraint,
  6. False imprisonment,
  7. Sexual assault,
  8. Criminal sexual contact,
  9. Lewdness,
  10. Criminal mischief,
  11. Burglary,
  12. Criminal trespass,
  13. Harassment,
  14. Stalking,
  15. Criminal coercion,
  16. Robbery,
  17. Contempt of a domestic violence order and
  18. Any crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury.

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However, just because there is the presence of one of these criminal activities it does not mean that there is necessarily a domestic violence matter. For a person to be a domestic violence victim there must be some relationship such as the victim is a current or former spouse who is over the age of 18, a current or former household member, or a person whom the perpetrator has had a dating relationship. It does not matter the gender of the victim and domestic violence affects both men and women.  It is also important to note that domestic violence is not just physical but can include sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological actions or threats.

Criminal Charges for Domestic Violence

Domestic violence charges can be confusing to many people because these charges are both civil and criminal in nature. The charges and consequences of a domestic violence charge largely depend on the underlying criminal offense committed. Both the Atlantic City Municipal Court as well as the Criminal Division of the Superior Court have the authority to hear cases, with lower level offenses sent to the Municipal Court and indictable offenses going to the Superior Court. As noted above, there are eighteen separate criminal offenses which can support a domestic abuse charge, these crimes range in severity from first-degree crimes to fourth-degree crimes, and therefore a person can be sentenced to pay a fine, make restitution, or be sentenced to prison.

  • First-degree crime – If the underlying criminal activity is considered a first-degree crime, then the court can impose a prison sentence between 10 and 20 years in most cases. However, if the crime is murder then the court has more latitude in the amount of time they can sentence a person to and may choose to impose a sentence of between 20, 25 or 30 years and even life for certain crimes. In addition, the court can also fine the person convicted of a first-degree crime up to $200,000.
  • Second-degree crime – Second-degree crimes include certain types of sexual assaults, aggravated assaults, and robbery, all of which may serve as the basis for a domestic violence charge. If a person is convicted of a second-degree crime they can face a prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years and a fine up to $150,000.
  • Third-degree crimes – if you are convicted of a third-degree crime such as aggravated assault or possession a handgun, you can be sentenced to 3-5 years in prison. and can be fined up to $15,000.
  • Fourth-degree criminal offenses – If you are convicted of a crime in the fourth degree such as aggravated assault, or criminal sexual contact, in New Jersey, you can be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and face a fine of up to $10,000.

In addition to these criminal penalties, domestic abuse allegations are often accompanied by a restraining order, which can have their own impact on your relationships and finances.  Restraining orders can be filed as a temporary restraining order, and then followed with a final restraining order.  A temporary restraining order is designed to protect the victim from any further act of abuse by the defendant. A judge may order a temporary restraining order without you having an opportunity to be heard in court, however, as the name implies this is merely a temporary order and will only last until the court can have a full hearing which will usually be heard within ten days. During the time between the issuance of the temporary restraining order and the final restraining order the defendant and the victim cannot be in contact with each other. This means that a person who has been accused of domestic violence may be wholly unable to communicate with their children or return to their home. While everyone is afforded a fair hearing, a hearing for a full restraining order tends to be heavily prejudiced towards the victim, which can have serious ramifications for a person who has been accused.

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Call an Experienced Atlantic County, New Jersey Domestic Violence Attorney

When you are charged with or are the victim of domestic violence, it is important to have the best possible representation to protect your rights and your safety. The domestic violence laws in New Jersey are very complex and are tied to some of the most personal relationships in our lives, therefore it is always wise to work with an experienced domestic violence attorney. At the Law Firm of John J. Zarych, we have a team of dedicated criminal defense attorneys who are experienced and well-versed in both representing victims and defending those who are accused of domestic violence. Our office is available now to assist you. To schedule a no-cost and confidential initial case evaluation, call (609) 616-4956 today or contact us online.