In New Jersey, police and prosecutors take domestic violence accusations very seriously. In fact, there is a group of special punishments and precautions that police and courts take in any case of domestic violence. Often, these mean penalties for the accused before their guilt is even proven at trial.
Domestic violence defendants are immediately arrested, their right to have weapons is revoked, and they are often placed under restraining orders that may keep them from their own homes, all without a trial. If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime in Egg Harbor, get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. The lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych can help you with your domestic violence charges.
New Jersey Domestic Violence Crimes
In New Jersey, there are 18 crimes that the State considers “domestic violence crimes,” when committed against particular classes of victims. As part of The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-19 lists these 18 domestic violence crimes as:
Criminal sexual contact
Contempt of a domestic violence order
Any other crime that risks death or serious bodily injury
These are the only crimes that can become domestic violence crimes, but each main crime may have different versions (such as “aggravated criminal sexual contact” or “simple assault”).
For someone to be accused of a domestic violence crime, they must be an adult – over 18 years old. Alternatively, they could be an emancipated minor. That means a minor who has been legally deemed an adult, either by having a child, serving in the military, or being declared emancipated by a court or administrative agency.
The actor and victim must also have some relationship between them. If they are both adults or emancipated minors, then it is a domestic violence situation when the actor and victim:
Were formerly married; or
Live in the same household.
For those who live in the same household, there is no requirement that they are dating or anything similar. Instead, this part is aimed at roommates, adult siblings, parent, or adult children in the same household.
No matter the age of the victim, it is also domestic violence if the actor and victim:
Share a child;
Have a child on the way (one of them is pregnant); or
Have dated (or are currently dating).
The “dating relationship” is not clarified under the Act. That means it could include any level of dating, and could count whether or not the victim and actor have ever had sex.
Except for the mention of pregnancy, these conditions are gender-neutral. That means they should apply equally to male and female victims and actors.
Penalties for Domestic Violence
In New Jersey, the “domestic violence” title is more important for the extra conditions than the actual sentence. These extra conditions are dictated by New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Procedures Manual. This was written by the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Attorney General to give police and courts guidance with domestic violence cases.
The first important procedure is that police must make an arrest in domestic violence cases. Usually, police may let the accused off with a warning. Instead, for domestic cases, police are expected to make an arrest.
When police make a domestic violence arrest, they must also seize the defendant’s weapons. That includes any firearms on the premises, any firearm permits, and even any guns stored elsewhere. They are also authorized to seek warrants to get these guns if people will not turn them over without a court order.
Alleged victims may also request temporary restraining orders (TROs) from a court. TROs can be issued by a court without consulting or notifying the defendant before granting the order. They may even prevent the defendant from going home or seeing their children. This all happens before a criminal trial even determines the defendant’s guilt or innocence.
The normal penalties for the underlying crime still stand for domestic violence crimes. These range from some of the most serious crimes in New Jersey to relatively minor crimes. For instance, simple assault can be a disorderly persons offense with up to six months jail time and a $1,000 fine. On the other end, homicide, aggravated sexual assault, and kidnapping can all result in life sentences. All of these crimes have a potential for jail or prison time, plus high fines.
New Jersey Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime in Egg Harbor, or anywhere in New Jersey, it is vital that you talk to a criminal defense attorney about your case. You could face multiple punishments before you even go to trial – and they might be difficult to reverse. The experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych can help you fight to get the charges against you dropped or reduced. Call (609) 616-4956 today for a free consultation.