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Family Law: Domestic Violence

Protect Yourself and Seek a New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer

Few New Jersey criminal charges can upend your life faster and more impactfully than domestic violence. In fact, your world can be thrown into turmoil instantly, well before you have actually been charged with a crime. The mere allegation that you have committed an act of domestic abuse – whether true or not – is enough under New Jersey law to have you removed from your home and separated from your kids, among other severe consequences. If you do not take a charge of domestic violence as seriously as New Jersey police and prosecutors do and retain an experienced New Jersey domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible, you could be risking everything.

At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our New Jersey domestic violence lawyers understand what is at stake. While our team also understands that actual cases of domestic violence should be treated as the serious crimes they are, the sad reality is that false allegations are too often made or exaggerated for cynical reasons, such as gaining an advantage in a divorce case or custody dispute.

Whatever the underlying circumstances, our attorneys stand ready to protect your rights from the moment you reach out to us. Domestic violence cases in New Jersey proceed much faster than other criminal matters, and it can be easy to get steamrolled by aggressive prosecutors and a legal framework specifically designed to impose swift and dramatic consequences. If you choose our firm, a New Jersey domestic violence lawyer will use our extensive experience and a tenacious approach to criminal defense in our relentless efforts to clear your name, defeat the charges and get your life back.

What Is Domestic Violence in New Jersey?

Domestic violence in New Jersey is not just one offense; it can be any number of criminal offenses as set forth in the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (PDVA). What makes an offense an act of domestic violence is that it is committed against a “protected person” with whom the accused has or had a relationship. Under the PDVA, protected persons include:

  • Current and former spouses;
  • Other adults who are present or former members of the alleged attacker’s household;
  • Emancipated minors who are present or former members of the alleged attacker’s household;
  • Current and former boyfriends and girlfriends;
  • Parents of shared children; and,
  • Individuals with whom the alleged attacker expects to have a child if the attacker or the alleged victim is pregnant.

Domestic violence charges against a protected person can be based on any of the following criminal acts:

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

Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence in New Jersey

Of course, the issuance of a restraining order may only be the first of many consequences if you are ultimately found guilty of domestic violence. If the alleged victim files a criminal complaint and you are convicted, you could be facing significant fines, time behind bars and a stain on your reputation that could follow you for the rest of your life.

In domestic violence cases, the fines and prison time that are on the table are the same as those that apply in cases involving offenses against non-protected persons. New Jersey classifies crimes as “indictable offenses” and “disorderly persons offenses,” and the penalties for domestic violence crimes are determined based upon their classification:

  • First-Degree Indictable Crimes – 10 years to life prison (depending on the crime charged) and a fine of up to $200,000.
  • Second-Degree Indictable Crimes – Five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 150,000.
  • Third-Degree Indictable Crimes – Three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Fourth-Degree Indictable Crimes – Up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Crimes that can be charged as domestic violence under the PDVA run the entire range of classifications. For example, while lewdness can be classified as a disorderly persons offense (although it can also be charged as a fourth-degree indictable offense), homicide and sexual assault crimes targeting protected persons can be charged as first-degree indictable offenses carrying the potential for life behind bars. Other examples include:

  • Assault and Aggravated Assault – Assault charges in domestic violence cases can range from disorderly persons offenses to third-degree indictable offenses. Aggravated assault charges can be charged as high as a second-degree indictable offense.
  • Criminal Restraint – Criminal restraint is a third-degree indictable offense in all cases.
  • Criminal Trespass – Criminal trespass can be charged as a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree indictable offense.
  • False Imprisonment – False imprisonment is a disorderly persons offense in all cases.
  • Harassment – Harassment can be charged as a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree indictable offense.
  • Stalking – Stalking can be charged as either a third-degree or fourth-degree indictable offense.
  • Terroristic Threats – In domestic violence cases, the crime of making terroristic threats constitutes a third-degree indictable offense.

 

Charged With Domestic Violence? Call Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. Today

Since New Jersey prosecutors aggressively pursue domestic violence charges, trying to defend yourself or thinking you can talk your way out of it can be a catastrophic mistake. Fighting these charges requires the help of a New Jersey domestic violence lawyer who has the experience and skill to prepare a thorough and aggressive defense in a very short amount of time.

At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our attorneys are available on an emergency basis to immediately get to work handling such matters. Our team has more than 600 years of combined experience and a track record of positive outcomes for those accused of domestic violence. Please call 1-877-435-6371 or contact us online today to discuss your situation.

 

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