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Ocean City Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

“Domestic violence” is not, itself a crime.  Instead, domestic violence is a label attached when certain crimes are committed against family members and romantic partners.  The underlying crime for the domestic violence accusations could vary widely, with a wide range of possible punishments.

The things that all domestic violence cases have in common are the upgraded penalties you could face, including arrest, losing your right to have a gun, and the possibility of a restraining order against you.  If you have been arrested or accused of domestic violence crimes, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney in Ocean City, New Jersey.  The attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can help you fight your domestic violence charges.

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What Is Domestic Violence in New Jersey?

In order for a crime to count as “domestic violence” in New Jersey, there must be a particular crime, a particular type of actor, and a particular type of victim.  New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 lists the crimes that count as “domestic violence.”  They are:

  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Criminal mischief
  • Criminal restraint
  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Criminal trespass
  • False imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping
  • Lewdness
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking
  • Terroristic threats
  • Criminal coercion
  • Robbery
  • Contempt of a domestic violence order
  • Any other crime that risks serious bodily injury or death

These crimes can only count as a case of domestic violence if committed by an adult or an emancipated minor.

The definition of “adult” is clear enough: anyone over 18 years old.  An emancipated minor is someone who is still under 18, but is legally treated like an adult.  This includes people under 18 who is married, in the military, has a child of their own, or was declared emancipated by a court or government agency.

In order for one of these crimes to become a crime of domestic violence, there must be some relation between the victim and the actor.  If the actor and victim are both either adults or emancipated minors, these crimes are domestic violence crimes when the actor and victim:

  • Are married;
  • Were formerly married; or
  • Are members of the same household.

For a victim of any age, these crimes are domestic violence when the actor and victim:

  • Have a child in common;
  • Are expecting a child together; or
  • Have dated.

Basically, these laws are designed to protect romantic partners from violent crimes their current or former partner might commit.  Additionally, under this definition, adults who live together are also protected under the definition of domestic violence.  These laws are also gender-neutral, and could apply to male or female aggressors, as well as male or female victims (except of course for the references to pregnancy).

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Penalties for New Jersey Domestic Violence Crimes

New Jersey takes violent crime very seriously, and each domestic violence crime has very high penalties.  On top of that, in an effort to protect domestic violence victims, the State legislature has added penalties for domestic violence crimes.

First, New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Procedures Manual, issued by the New Jersey Supreme Court and Attorney General’s offices, outlines the procedures for domestic violence cases.  This includes mandatory arrests for any domestic violence crime.  Police must still follow the rules for arrests, including having probable cause – but police have no discretion to refuse to arrest a domestic violence suspect.

Additionally, police can immediately seize the suspect’s guns.  This means the immediate seizure of any guns on the premises.  Even if the suspect has a weapon somewhere else, the police can seize those weapons as well.  The Domestic Violence Act also allows the seizure of any firearm purchaser ID cards.  If the police have trouble seizing these weapons, they are permitted under the Act to get a warrant to seize the guns.

After arrest and weapon seizure, courts may issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the suspect.  These can be granted without notice or the opportunity to be heard on the part of the suspect.  It is not until after the order is already issued that the defendant gets their chance to defend themselves.  Violating a TRO or permanent restraining order can mean immediate arrest and additional penalties.

On top of these, you still need to face the original charges.  The domestic violence crimes listed above are all serious offenses.  They range from capital offenses down to disorderly persons offenses.  No matter how serious the crime is, there are possibilities of fines and jail time.  For example, even a fourth degree crime, the lowest level before disorderly persons offenses, has a maximum of 18 months in prison.  More serious crimes like sexual assault have a minimum of 25 years in prison.

New Jersey Domestic Violence Attorneys

Contact the Law Office of John J. Zarych today if you have been accused of domestic violence.  Our attorneys can help you fight your charges and try to get them reduced or dismissed.  Call today for a free, confidential consultation at (609) 616-4956.