Domestic violence in New Jersey is treated very seriously. Not only can you immediately be arrested for any domestic violence crimes, but you also face the possibility of losing your right to access firearms and getting restraining orders filed against you. This may mean being barred from your own home, put in jail, and re-arrested for any further contact.
If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence crimes in Galloway Township, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. The underlying crimes for domestic violence are very serious, in addition to the extra punishments. Our attorneys can help you fight your charges and get the extra consequences against you reduced.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Galloway Township, NJ
“Domestic Violence” is not one crime in New Jersey, but rather a group of crimes that are treated more seriously when the victim is a domestic partner or similar person. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-19(a)) lists 18 crimes that qualify as “domestic violence” crimes under certain circumstances. These crimes are:
- Terroristic Threats,
- Criminal Restraint,
- False Imprisonment,
- Sexual Assault,
- Criminal Sexual Contact,
- Criminal Mischief,
- Criminal Trespass,
- Criminal coercion,
- Contempt of a domestic violence order, and
- Any other crime involving the risk of serious bodily injury or death.
In order to qualify as domestic violence, certain elements regarding the victim and actor must also be met.
First, the actor must be an adult or emancipated minor. An adult is anyone over 18. An emancipated minor is anyone under 18 that is otherwise treated as an adult. This happens when someone under 18 is married, in the military, is pregnant, has a child, or was declared emancipated by a court or administrative agency.
The victim must also meet some certain conditions regarding the relationship between the victim and actor. If the victim is an adult or emancipated minor, then it is domestic violence when the actor and victim:
- Are married;
- Were married (and are now divorced or the marriage was annulled); or
- Live in the same household.
No matter how old the victim is, it is also domestic violence when the actor and victim:
- Have a child together;
- Are expecting a child together (one of them is pregnant); or
- Have dated.
There are no requirements for how long they need to have dated, nor how serious the relationship needs to have been. It is also important to note that the condition that they live in the same household protects non-romantic relations, such as roommates, adult siblings, and adult children, as well as cohabitating romantic partners. These requirements (except for the pregnancy requirement) are gender-neutral. That means whether the victim or actor is male or female, these rules should apply equally.
Penalties for NJ Domestic Violence Crimes
These crimes are still, by themselves, illegal, even when they are not crimes of domestic violence. That means the potential for jail or prison, high fines, and other penalties for any of these crimes. Homicide and sexual assault (New Jersey’s version of rape) could result in life sentences. Many of the other crimes have a potential sentence of more than three years in prison and fines of $15,000. The lower end of the spectrum for these crimes, such as simple assault, are disorderly persons offenses with a potential of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
On top of these penalties, the “domestic violence” aspect of this crime is independently punished. These punishments are designed as protective measures for the victims, but they severely restrict the defendant’s life.
First, in any case of domestic violence, police lose their discretion to refuse to make an arrest. This means your arrest is guaranteed as long as there is probable cause to arrest you. In situations where police might otherwise ignore the crime and let you off with a warning, if the crime is committed against a romantic partner, an arrest is expected.
When police arrest you for a domestic violence crime, they are also allowed to seize your guns and gun permit. This means all guns on the premises may be immediately taken away from the owner. The police can even get a warrant to seize any other guns, even if they are located in someone else’s house.
Finally, alleged victims of domestic violence are allowed to get a temporary restraining order (TRO). TROs can be issues without notifying the defendant or allowing them a chance to defend against the claims. These can kick you out of your house and block access to your spouse or children, if the court deems it necessary.
Our Galloway Twp. Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Can Help
Domestic violence crimes should not be taken lightly. Though the crime itself may be a lighter offense, the fact that it is a domestic violence crime makes penalties more severe. Additionally, since domestic crimes could also be very serious offenses, you should consider talking to an experienced defense attorney. The attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations on your case. Call today at (609) 616-4956.