Understanding Domestic Violence Charges in New Jersey: FAQs and Legal Options
March 17, 2023
Domestic violence is a serious crime that can have long-lasting consequences. If you are facing domestic violence charges, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. The consequences can include fines, jail time, and even the loss of custody of your children. To protect your rights and minimize the damage your case could do to your life, it is crucial that you have the best legal defense possible.
Domestic violence occurs when an adult or an emancipated minor commits one or more of the following crimes against a spouse, ex-spouse, certain other qualifying relationships, or any other person who lives in the same house or used to live there:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact
Can I Be Charged With Domestic Violence If I Did Not Physically Harm Anyone?
Yes, domestic violence charges can be filed even if there is no physical harm involved. For example, stalking or harassing someone can be considered domestic violence even if there is no physical contact.
Can Police Press Charges If The Victim Doesn’t Want To In New Jersey?
Yes, the police can press charges for domestic violence in New Jersey even if the alleged victim does not want to press charges. In fact, New Jersey law requires the police to make an arrest if there is probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred. Then, the prosecutor can decide whether or not to go forward with the case, no matter what the alleged victim wants.
How Are Domestic Violence Cases Handled In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, domestic violence cases are typically handled in the Family Division of the Superior Court. A victim can file a complaint and ask for a temporary restraining order (TRO). A hearing will be held shortly thereafter to decide if a final restraining order (FRO) is needed. If a FRO is issued, it can have serious consequences, such as prohibiting the accused from contacting the alleged victim or from possessing firearms.
What Are The Potential Penalties For A Domestic Violence Conviction In New Jersey?
When someone is found guilty of domestic violence in New Jersey, the penalties for a domestic violence conviction depend on the severity of the offense. For example, simple assault can result in up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, while aggravated assault can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine.
How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay On Your Record?
In New Jersey, many domestic violence offenses are not eligible for expungement. This means that convictions for domestic violence will stay on a person’s criminal record forever, unless they are granted a pardon or a certificate of rehabilitation. Restraining orders are not able to be expunged, as they are civil in nature. Removing a Final Restraining Order involves filing a motion to vacate the Order.
What Are Some Common Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges?
Some common defenses against domestic violence charges in New Jersey include:
- Self-defense: If the defendant acted in self-defense, they may be able to argue that their actions were justified and they were acting to protect themselves or someone else from harm.
- False allegations: If the alleged victim made false allegations of domestic violence, the defendant can use this as a defense. To defend against a false domestic violence case, the accused can gather evidence to prove their innocence, such as witnesses, surveillance footage, or text messages. The accused can also argue that the alleged victim is making false accusations out of spite or in an attempt to gain an advantage in a divorce or child custody dispute.
- Lack of evidence: One way to fight charges of domestic violence is to question the evidence the prosecution has put together. This could mean calling into question the credibility of witnesses or evidence, questioning whether a search and seizure was legal, or pointing out flaws in the prosecution’s case. If the prosecution cannot provide enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed domestic violence, the charges may be dropped.
- Consent: If the alleged victim consented to the behavior that led to the domestic violence charges, the defendant can argue that they did not commit a crime.
What Should I Do After Being Charged With Domestic Violence?
It is important to take steps to protect your reputation and future prospects during the legal process. This could mean going to counseling or therapy to deal with any underlying problems, like drug use or anger management, that may have contributed to domestic violence. You may also need to do things on your own to show that you are taking responsibility for your actions and are committed to preventing similar incidents from occurring in the future.
If you are charged with domestic violence in New Jersey, it is important to take the situation seriously and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Your attorney can help protect your rights, explain your legal options, and represent you in court.
Contact Aydelotte & Scardella Law Today For a Free Consultation About Your Domestic Violence Case in New Jersey
At Ayedolette & Scardella, LLC, we know how complicated domestic violence cases can be and are committed to providing our clients with the best legal defense possible. We will guide you through the legal process, advise you on your rights, and help you make informed decisions about your case.
If you are facing domestic violence charges or a TRO has been filed against you, it is important to take these steps to protect your rights and minimize the potential consequences of your case. Our experienced attorneys have a track record of winning cases involving domestic violence, and they will work hard to protect your rights and lessen the impact of your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you with your domestic violence case.