New Jersey has no one crime named “domestic violence.” Instead, many violent crimes, when committed against a member of your household, become “domestic violence crimes.” Because police and legislators fear the victims could be placed at additional risk if they are victimized by household members or romantic partners, there are additional penalties and police procedures for these crimes.
If you were charged with a domestic violence crime, or were arrested after a domestic dispute, talk to an attorney today. The Collingswood domestic violence defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help. For a free consultation on your charges, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Collingswood Domestic Violence Crimes
New Jersey law designates certain crimes as “domestic violence” crimes if they are committed against certain people. There is no specific crime of domestic violence, but N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-19 designates the following crimes as domestic violence crimes under certain circumstances:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Criminal coercion
- Contempt of a domestic violence order; or
- Any other crime that risks severe personal injury or death.
These crimes are not always domestic violence crimes. In order to qualify, they must be committed by a particular class of actor against a particular class of victim.
This New Jersey statute is known as the Prevention of Domestic Violence act, as it protects those that live in the same household as the actor, plus romantic partners. Specifically, the law covers adults and emancipated minors who:
- Were married to the actor,
- Are currently married to the actor, or
- Live in the same household as the actor.
The Act also protects victims of any age who:
- Share a child with the actor;
- Are expecting the actor’s child; or
- Have dated/are dating the actor.
The romantic relationship required for those dating the actor is not fully defined. This means that it should apply equally to short-term relationships and long-term relationships, or even for people who have only shared a single date. There is no dating or romantic relationship required regarding other adults who live in the same house as the actor. This means that the Act could apply to violence against an adult parent, an adult sibling, or even a roommate, and the crime could still be considered a domestic violence crime. Lastly, the act is gender-neutral, and could apply to victims and actors of any gender, without bias.
Domestic Violence Penalties
The criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych work to protect our clients from the potential legal consequences of their actions, and work to challenge the evidence against you. However, many of the penalties associated with domestic violence crimes can occur before you are ever given any legal process.
Domestic violence is not one single crime, and the law creates additional penalties against all crimes in this category. First, while police usually have the discretion to refuse to make an arrest, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act requires police to make an arrest for domestic violence claims, when legally justified. In addition, police must explain to the victim their ability to get a restraining order against you. This restraining order can prevent you from accessing your home, block access to any firearms you own (even if you need them for work), and can give your spouse or domestic partner access to your funds. Police can also take your firearms on the spot, and block any access, even before a court issues a restraining order.
In addition, you could face penalties for the underlying crime itself. For crimes like homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and many of the other crimes on the list, the potential penalties are very high. The level of crime for these domestic violence crimes varies, even within particular crimes. Since many crimes, like assault, have a “simple” and “aggravated” form, you may be looking at higher or lower penalties, even within one specific crime.
All of the crimes listed above are classified into one of the following categories, and carry the potential penalties associated with that classification:
- First degree crimes carry fines up to $200,000 and 10-20 years in prison;
- Second degree crimes carry fines up to $150,000 and 5-10 years in prison;
- Third degree crimes carry fines up to $15,000 and 3-5 years in prison;
- Fourth degree crimes carry fines up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison; and
- Disorderly persons offenses carry fines up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail.
Our Collingswood, NJ Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Can Help
The South Jersey domestic violence attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych work to fight the government’s case against our clients, free them from unjustified domestic violence orders, and work to keep them out of jail on their charges. For a free consultation with our lawyers, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.