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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 attorney 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. We 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.
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:
Domestic violence charges against a protected person can be based on any of the following criminal acts:
The PDVA establishes unique and expedited procedures for police, prosecutors and courts responding to allegations of domestic violence. This includes the entry of a restraining order against the accused initially and usually without providing the accused with notice or an opportunity to respond. If a judge grants such an order based on credible allegations by the alleged victim, it will typically prohibit the accused from having any contact with the alleged victim, directly or indirectly, among other possible limitations on the accused’s rights.
Ultimately, the accused will have an opportunity to respond and fight the extension of any temporary restraining order issued against him or her. This means that the temporary restraining order can be dismissed, but it also means that a final restraining order can be entered, one that is permanent unless later dissolved by a judge. Final restraining orders can be overwhelming and harsh, and include consequences such as:
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:
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:
Violating a domestic violence restraining order is also a criminal offense in New Jersey. This includes violating a temporary restraining order entered without notice and the opportunity to be heard as well as violating a final restraining order that is entered after a contested hearing. In addition to facing an even stricter and more-limiting restraining order, individuals accused of violating domestic violence restraining orders can be charged with either a fourth-degree indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense, resulting in potential penalties ranging from six to 18 months behind bars and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
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 attorney 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 1-609-281-8773 or contact us online today to discuss your situation.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.