Hire a Top Morristown Domestic Violence Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
In New Jersey, domestic violence is defined as the commission of certain criminal offenses against a family member. Family members protected under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) include children, spouses, former spouses, parents of shared children, boyfriends, girlfriends, and any other individuals who live with (or who previously lived with) the perpetrator of the crime. Penalties include those for the underlying offense as well as additional domestic violence-specific penalties, and being convicted of domestic violence in Morristown could mean losing your home, losing your job and losing the privilege to spend time with your children. Morristown domestic violence lawyer Scott Gorman provides experienced legal representation for individuals who are facing domestic violence charges in Morristown and all of New Jersey. Scott can act quickly to protect you against unnecessary consequences.
Crimes Prosecuted as Domestic Violence in New Jersey
When you are arrested for domestic violence, the criminal justice process moves swiftly. In fact, you could be at risk of losing certain rights before trial; and, unlike other criminal cases where it can take months to go to trial, you may have a critical hearing that may be scheduled in a matter of days. As a result, if you are facing domestic violence allegations in Morristown, it is important that you speak with an attorney immediately. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call 973-796-3800 now.
Assault in New Jersey
Under Section 2C:12-1 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, assault crimes fall into two categories: simple assault and aggravated assault. Both types of crimes can trigger domestic violence allegations when perpetrated against a protected family member. Additionally, while assault can involve causing physical harm, the assault statute covers attempts to cause physical harm or “put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury” as well.
New Jersey law defines two separate kidnapping offenses as well. Under Section 2C:13-1, a person can face domestic violence charges involving kidnapping if he or she:
- “[U]nlawfully removes another from the place where he is found or if he unlawfully confines another with the purpose of holding that person for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage;” or,
- “[U]nlawfully removes another . . . or  unlawfully confines another for a substantial period . . . (1) To facilitate commission of any crime or flight thereafter; (2) To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another; . . . or (4) To permanently deprive a parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian of custody of the victim.”
Child Abuse & Endangerment Allegations
Section 9:6-3 of the Code of Criminal Justice defines offenses related to child abuse and endangerment. These include the offenses of cruelty, neglect, molestation and endangering the welfare of a child. In cases involving allegations of child abuse or endangerment, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) may step in and immediately seek to remove the affected child or children from the alleged perpetrator’s custody.
In New Jersey, the crime of stalking is defined as, “purposefully or knowingly engag[ing] in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.” In the context of a domestic violence case, this involves conduct directed at a current or former spouse or partner, a parent of a shared child, or any other household member. Examples of conduct that may lead to stalking allegations under Section 2C:12-10 of the Code of Criminal Justice include:
- Repeatedly maintaining visual or physical proximity
- Following, monitoring, observing or surveying
- Threatening or communicating about the victim with a third party
- Interfering with the victim’s property
- Repeatedly harassing or threatening by means other than communication
Sexual violence crimes are defined in Section 2C:14-2 of the Code of Criminal Justice. The Code of Criminal Justice does not use the term “rape,” but instead defines the crimes of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. The statute applies to sexual offenses committed against minors and adults.
Violation of Injunctions
Violating a domestic violence restraining order or injunction can lead to criminal penalties under Section 2C:29-9. This is true even though domestic violence restraining orders are entered in civil proceedings, as discussed below.
The crime of cyberstalking, or “cyber-harassment,” is defined in Section 2C:33-4.1 of the Code of Criminal Justice. Emails, texts and even social media posts can trigger cyberstalking allegations if they involve:
- Threats to commit a crime against the victim or the victim’s property
- Threats to inflict personal injury
- Threats to inflict property damage
- Sending lewd, indecent or obscene material
False Allegations of Domestic Violence
False allegations of domestic violence are common in disputes between spouses and partners; and, due to the swiftness with which domestic violence cases are prosecuted, cases involving false allegations can quickly spiral out of control. If you have been falsely accused of a domestic violence crime in Morristown, you cannot assume that the truth will eventually come out. You need to protect yourself by working to disprove the allegations against you, and you need to speak with a defense lawyer right away. Depending on the circumstances involved, Morristown domestic violence lawyer, Scott Gorman, may be able to use to protect you against false allegations include:
- Constitutional violations
- Evidence of falsity
- Lack of evidence of domestic violence
- Self-defense or defense of a child
Protect Yourself Against Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
When the police file domestic violence charges, the victim can request a temporary restraining order that a judge can grant ex parte – meaning that the hearing can take place without your presence. Additionally, since this is a civil proceeding that takes place concurrently with your criminal case, the burden of proof for imposing a restraining order is a “preponderance of the evidence” (not “beyond a reasonable doubt”). From presenting evidence of an alibi to presenting witness testimony to contradict your accuser’s story, there are various ways to defend against the imposition of a domestic violence restraining order; and, once again, the best way to protect yourself is to engage an experienced Morristown domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible.
A restraining order can put serious limitations on your family life. Depending on your particular circumstances, a domestic violence restraining order could leave you searching for a new place to live or without direct access to your children while you await a judge’s decision. In New Jersey, there are two types of restraining orders—temporary and final.
While each order is designed to keep distance between the alleged victim and the alleged abuser, you need to know the limitations and legal requirements of each, because any violation, even one you were unaware of at the time, can hurt your case and can result in serious repercussions. No matter which is granted, however, you still should consult with a Morristown domestic violence lawyer to better understand your rights.
Temporary Restraining Order
A temporary restraining order (TRO) can be filed by going to the local county courthouse or police department and reporting that certain acts of domestic violence have been committed. The person who reports the acts can ask for protection under the 1990 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19), which protection can be granted in the form of a TRO.
If a judge determines that the alleged victim is in continued danger from the accused attacker, he or she will issue the order, usually with no prior warning to the other party. When your partner or ex is granted a TRO, police may show up to remove you from the house and they may arrest you. Any firearms in your possession will be taken and will not be returned until you complete a second, separate proceeding, and, in some instances, additional court appearances may be necessary to avoid permanent forfeiture of your firearms.
Final Restraining Order for those Accused of Domestic Violence in New Jersey
A final restraining order (FRO) is the second step following the TRO. Once the TRO is issued, a hearing on the alleged victim’s application for a FRO must take place within ten days of the domestic violence accusation. A FRO has serious, far-reaching effects on not only the current situation, but the rest of an accused attacker’s life.
If a final restraining order has been entered against you, you will be subject to fingerprinting. The Administrative Office of the Courts will keep your name in a central registry that tracks all people who have had domestic violence restraining orders issued against them. If you violate any restraining order at any time, you can be found in contempt of court, and if you commit a second or subsequent violation, you can be sentenced to a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Along with these restrictions, a final restraining order blocks you from possessing a firearm or a purchaser’s identification card. You will not be able to apply for a card in the future either. If you lived in the same home with your alleged victim, you will most likely be unable to return and your ability to see your children will likely be impacted. Custody agreements can take a long time to be worked out, and until that time, you may find yourself completely cut off or severely restricted as to how you can visit your own children.
A temporary restraining order may be more of a nuisance, but it can quickly turn into a final restraining order, which can effectively turn your life upside down. If your partner has issued either order against you, contact a domestic violence attorney right away. Scott Gorman at The Gorman Law Firm will work with you to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with a Morristown Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you are facing a domestic violence charge in Morristown, we encourage you to contact us immediately to discuss your case. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with defense attorney Scott Gorman, call 973-796-3800 or contact us online now.