Video: Domestic Violence Consequences

Domestic violence is taken very seriously in New Jersey.

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

Under NJSA 2C:25-17, “The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act”, a victim of Domestic Violence can obtain a Restraining Order against a person with whom he/she has or has had a dating relationship or with whom he/she shares a household. The victim must prove that a recent act of Domestic Violence occurred, and such acts are defined as one of the following:

(1) Homicide N.J.S.2C:11-1 et seq.

(2) Assault N.J.S.2C:12-1

(3) Terroristic threats N.J.S.2C:12-3

(4) Kidnapping N.J.S.2C:13-1

(5) Criminal restraint N.J.S.2C:13-2

(6) False imprisonment N.J.S.2C:13-3

(7) Sexual assault N.J.S.2C:14-2

(8) Criminal sexual contact N.J.S.2C:14-3

(9) Lewdness N.J.S.2C:14-4

(10) Criminal mischief N.J.S.2C:17-3

(11) Burglary N.J.S.2C:18-2

(12) Criminal trespass N.J.S.2C:18-3

(13) Harassment N.J.S.2C:33-4

(14) Stalking P.L.1992, c.209 (C.2C:12-10)

(15) Criminal coercion N.J.S.2C:13-5

(16) Robbery N.J.S.2C:15-1

(17) Contempt of a domestic violence order pursuant to subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9 that constitutes a crime or disorderly persons offense

(18) Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et al.)

The victim must then establish based upon that act and any prior history of domestic violence that he/she is a truly a victim of domestic violence and in need of protection. A municipal court judge first grants a Temporary Restraining Order, and the matter is then scheduled within a week in the Superior Court for a hearing to make it a Final Restraining Order. The defendant is entitled to a trial in which he can present his own witnesses and evidence and cross examine the victim’s witnesses.

A Restraining Order is not a criminal offense, however it carries very serious consequences. If the restraining order is made final, it stays in effect permanently. A restraining order of course will prohibit you from having any contact with that person, and if you have any contact then you will be charged with Contempt or Violation of a Restraining Order under NJSA 2C:29-9 and face a felony-level offense and imprisonment. And if you have a second conviction for that you will face a mandatory 30 days in jail. In addition, the Judge will order forfeiture of all weapons and firearms, and the defendant will likely be barred from ever purchasing or possessing a firearm.

As Restraining Orders are handled in Family Court and often involve Divorce and Child Custody issues, divorce attorneys will often handle them. However, as noted, the Restraining Order is a quasi-criminal matter, and has serious criminal implications. A Final Restraining Order trial is also much more akin to a criminal trial than a Divorce trial, so an experienced Criminal Defense attorney is much better equipped to try to elements of the case.

Domestic Violence Charges

Also, you may and most likely will be charged with the criminal offense at the same time a Temporary Restraining Order is filed. Since the predicate act supporting a Restraining Order is based on a criminal offense, that offense is also commonly charged in criminal complaint. Under the Domestic Violence Protocol in New Jersey, if a police officer responds to a domestic incident and observes injury of any kind (even redness on skin), he must arrest the defendant and file a criminal charge, irregardless of the victim’s desire to pursue charges. Prosecutors also have specific protocol to follow, including prosecuting even if a victim wants to dismiss.

Most common is simple assault or if it is more serious injury you could be charged with the felony-level offense of aggravated assault. Simple assault carries up to six month in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If charged with aggravated assault you can face anywhere from 5 to 10 years in state prison if a serious violation is charged. Also very common is Harassment under NJSA 2C:33-4, which can include as minimal behavior as profanity or loud language with the purpose to annoy the other person.

If you need experienced, focused legal help related to criminal charges resulting from a domestic violence incident contact Dash Farrow today: