Domestic violence is something the New Jersey government works hard to fight. This means that there are often many consequences for domestic violence crimes that do not usually apply to other crimes. These penalties can come into effect before the charges against you are even proven in court. Because of this, it is vital to have an attorney help you with your domestic violence accusations as soon as you can.
For a free consultation on your case, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our Haddonfield domestic violence defense lawyers represent men and women accused of domestic violence in the Haddonfield area and throughout South Jersey. For a free consultation on your charges, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Haddonfield Domestic Violence Charges
In New Jersey, there is no one crime called “domestic violence.” Instead, there are over a dozen crimes that, when committed by certain actors against certain victims, are considered “domestic violence” crimes. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, codified and updated in N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-19, lists 18 crimes that can be domestic violence crimes:
- 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 death or serious bodily injury.
These crimes are only domestic violence crimes under certain circumstances. First, the actor must be an adult or an emancipated minor. This means that most people under 18 years old cannot legally commit a domestic violence crime. Additionally, the victim must fit into a certain class.
The Domestic Violence Protection Act is designed to protect family members, partners, and others who live with you. In particular, the victim must be an adult or emancipated minor who:
- Was previously married to you;
- Is currently married to you; or
- Lives in the same household as you.
This requirement for adults that live in the same household does not require a romantic relationship. While it would certainly cover domestic partners or live-in boyfriends or girlfriends, it may also cover any other adult in the household. This could include parents, grandparents, adult siblings, or even roommates or housemates. The Act also protects victims of any age who:
- Share a child with the actor;
- Are pregnant with the actor’s child; or
- Have dated the actor.
The law does not go into the specifics on the dating requirement. This means that violence against even an individual you went on one date with may still qualify. It also means that the Act covers short-term and long-term dating partners, as well as serious and passing partners, equally.
This Act also treats men and women equally. There is no requirement that the man be the aggressor or the victim be a woman; the actor and victim could be any gender and the law would apply equally.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Haddonfield, NJ
Many of the penalties for domestic violence crimes take effect immediately upon arrest, or soon after. Police usually have the discretion to refuse to make an arrest if they do not see the criminal process as necessary. However, the NJ legislature has removed that choice in domestic violence cases; police must make an arrest if there is enough evidence of domestic violence. Police must also seize any guns belonging to the actor upon arrest, even if the actor needs the gun for work.
In addition, police must inform the victim about their rights. Domestic violence victims can often file for restraining orders. Police are required to inform the victim of this right, and can help them file. These restraining orders may be able to kick you out of your house, restrict your access to your children, remove your firearms, and even give the victim access to your money (for spouses or domestic partners). Talk to an attorney for help fighting these orders.
The underlying crime itself also has penalties. Since many of these crimes are serious, violent crimes like assault or kidnapping, the penalties can be quite high. In addition, many of these crimes have simple and aggravated forms, and can carry varied penalties. These crimes fall under various categories, with the following potential punishments:
- First degree crimes have fines up to $200,000 and 10-20 years in prison;
- Second degree crimes have fines up to $150,000 and 5-10 years in prison;
- Third degree crimes have fines up to $15,000 and 3-5 years in prison;
- Fourth degree crimes have fines up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison; and
- Disorderly persons offenses have fines up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail.
Our Haddonfield Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Can Help
If you were arrested and charged with a domestic violence crime, take your case to an attorney right away. Our Haddonfield domestic violence lawyers represent people charged with crimes throughout South Jersey. For a free consultation on your case, contact The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.