Brooklawn, NJ Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you were charged with a domestic violence crime, it is important to talk to a defense attorney about your case. The government and prosecutors take domestic violence cases very seriously, and you should too. Though there is no specific crime of “domestic violence,” New Jersey law considers over a dozen crimes to be domestic violence crimes under certain circumstances.
For a free consultation on your Brooklawn domestic violence charges, contact the lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling criminal charges on behalf of people throughout South Jersey. For your free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Domestic Violence Charges in Brooklawn, NJ
The definition of “domestic violence” refers not to a particular crime, but rather the circumstances surrounding a crime. First, the actor must be an adult or an emancipated minor. Children cannot commit domestic violence crimes, in most cases. The second requirement deals with the victim’s relation to the actor. For a crime to become a domestic violence crime, the victim must be an adult or emancipated minor who:
- Is married to the actor,
- Was formerly married to the actor, or
- Lives in the same household as the actor.
This covers live-in boyfriends and girlfriends as well as spouses, but it is also broader. Any adults who live in the house are included, including adult siblings, parents, adult children, or even roommates; it does not require a romantic relationship. In addition, the following persons are included, regardless of their age:
- Anyone who shares a child with the actor,
- Anyone who is pregnant with the actor’s child, or
- Anyone who has dated the actor.
Except for the protection of someone who is pregnant with the actor’s child, these laws are gender-neutral. This means that they equally affect an actor or a victim, without any expectation that the aggressor is a man and the victim is a woman.
Lastly, the crime that is committed must be from a particular list. N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-19 lists a series of crimes that become domestic violence crimes when they are committed against a victim described above. This list includes the following crimes:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Criminal coercion
- Contempt of a domestic violence order
In addition, any other crime that risks “serious bodily injury” or death can also count as a domestic violence crime.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in New Jersey
Domestic violence crimes carry significant penalties if you are convicted. On top of this, you may face additional penalties that take effect even if charges are ultimately dropped or dismissed. This happens because the New Jersey government has taken additional steps to protect against violence in the home.
The crimes that become domestic violence offenses carry their own penalties. Since these crimes are so varied, it is important to understand your specific offense. In general, the penalties for different classes of crime break down as such:
- First degree crimes carry 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
- Second degree crimes carry 5-10 years and fines up to $150,000.
- Third degree crimes carry 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Fourth degree crimes carry up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Disorderly persons offenses carry up to 6 months in prison and fines up to $1,000.
Alongside these penalties, you could face additional sanctions authorized by the NJ government. When police investigate a crime, they can often refuse to make an arrest at their own discretion. However, for domestic violence cases, they must make an arrest if it is legally authorized. In addition, police must also immediately seize any firearms you have when they arrest you.
Courts offer restraining orders to protect victims of domestic violence. Police are supposed to inform domestic violence victims of their ability to get a restraining order, which increases the chances they will seek one. A domestic violence restraining order is very strong. First, like the domestic violence arrest, it can take away any access to firearms – even if you need them for your job. Second, it can bar you from being able to access your home or your children. Third, it may also give your spouse or partner access to your finances if they need the access to money to support themselves while you are barred from accessing them.
These restraining orders can often take effect before you are allowed a chance to defend against the order in court. You should be given a chance to challenge the order, but that may happen up to 10 days after the order takes effect. During this period, you may face these penalties even before going to court, and certainly before you are convicted of any crime.
Brooklawn Criminal Defense Attorney
The Brooklawn domestic violence lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those accused of crimes in Brooklawn and throughout South Jersey. With domestic violence charges, you may face penalties even before the case against you is proved in court. Because of this, it is vital to contact a lawyer as early as you can during the court process. For a free consultation on your charges, contact our criminal defense attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.