Hackensack Domestic Violence Law Firm
When you hear the term “domestic violence” you might think of a married couple who had an argument that got out of hand and became physical. However, in New Jersey, “domestic violence” can refer to many different classes of conduct, many of which do not involve physical violence at all. Moreover, there are times when “domestic violence” takes place between people who are not even in a married or dating relationship. Regardless of your relationship, if you are accused of a crime you need to consult with a Hackensack domestic violence law firm.
“Domestic violence” is not a criminal offense like “arson” or “theft.” Rather, certain offenses are classified as domestic violence depending on the relationship between the accused and the victim. Some of the most common domestic violence offenses are simple assault, harassment, and terroristic threats, but over a dozen other charges can be considered domestic violence depending on the circumstances.
Frequently, domestic violence is alleged between people who are married, dating, who had been married, or who had been in a dating relationship in the past. Other times, domestic violence can be alleged against a person who is related to the alleged victim or is otherwise a member of the same household as the victim. According to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, victims of domestic violence can include any of the following:
- Anyone who is 18 years old or is an emancipated minor and has been victimized by a spouse, former spouse or family/household member
- Anyone who is expecting a child or has a child with the attacker
- Anyone — regardless of age — who is in or was in a sexual or romantic relationship with the attacker if the attacker is over 18 years old or is an emancipated minor
What Crimes are Considered Domestic Violence in New Jersey?
The Act outlines the following actions, which, when done in the context of the relationships described above, can be considered domestic violence and can be prosecuted as such:
- Assault of a victim
- Making or following through on threats to the victim
- Physical restraint of a victim against his or her will
- Sexual assault
- Harassment, either electronically or in person
- Trespassing on the victim’s home or property
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
If you are accused of domestic violence, your criminal matter may be just the beginning of your problems. A victim of domestic violence may also apply for the protection of a domestic violence restraining order. To a victim of domestic violence, one of the primary benefits of a restraining order is that it can convert conduct that would otherwise not be unlawful into something that carries significant penalties.
For example, just showing up at the doorstep of an ex-girlfriend’s home is typically not a valid reason for an ex-boyfriend to be arrested. However, a restraining order typically prohibits such conduct, and if the visit is in violation of the terms of the restraining order, the ex-boyfriend can be arrested and charged with contempt. As a result, the ex-boyfriend will need to hire a domestic violence lawyer.
For the person who has a restraining order against him or her, the consequences can be far-reaching. In addition, to the prohibition against communicating with the victim, a final restraining order will result in a prohibition against owning or possessing firearms. Those who have a final restraining order issued against them have their names included in the Domestic Violence Registry, a database of abusers, and when former partners have disputes over custody, a finding of an act of domestic violence can have significant impact on how the custody dispute in resolved. Any time a court issues a final restraining order, a civil penalty is assessed against the abuser. Finally, a court may require the defendant to compensate the victim for his or her attorney’s fees.
When a person who claims to be victim of a domestic violence requests a restraining order, the first step in the process is for a judge to issue a temporary restraining order, a TRO. The TRO is served on the defendant and the parties are ordered to appear before a judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey to determine if the alleged victim is entitled to a final restraining order, or FRO.
Our Hackensack Domestic Violence Law Firm Helps Juveniles, Too
If someone under the age of 18 is charged with domestic violence and is not an emancipated minor, he or she may not be prosecuted as an adult offender under the Act. Instead, the accused may be prosecuted according to the juvenile delinquency laws. Call our Hackensack office to learn more about how we can help with these types of cases as well.