New Jersey adopted the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 1991. This law afforded heightened protections to those who are victims of any form of domestic violence. The primary relief created by this statute is the ability of a domestic violence victim to obtain a restraining order against his/her alleged abuser. If you have been accused of domestic violence in Toms River, Jackson, Manchester, Brick, Berkeley or another location in Ocean County, our lawyers have the talent needed to fully protect you. We are former county and municipal prosecutors that make up an eight attorney Tom River criminal defense firm that has been practicing in the county for over 100 years combined. Do not make the mistake of trying to deal with a domestic violence case on your own or with the assistance of an inexperienced attorney. Contact our Toms River Office now to discuss your charge with a lawyer on our highly qualified team. An attorney is available to assist you immediately in a free consultation at (732) 286-6500.Who Is Eligible for a Restraining Order in New Jersey?
A victim is entitled to protection under this law if they are the spouse, former spouse, are a present or former household member, have a child in common or were in a dating relationship with the defendant.What Conduct Constitutes Domestic Violence?
An incident of domestic violence arises where someone is the victim of homicide, simple assault or aggravated assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, or stalking.How Does Someone Obtain a Restraining Order?
A "victim" of domestic violence can apply for a temporary restraining order with the police or at the Family Division of the Ocean County Superior Court. A domestic violence complaint will be presented either over the telephone or in person to a judge. The judge will review the allegations in the complaint, consider the testimony of the victim, police officers and other witnesses and any other evidence presented to make a decision. The court will have to find that there is probable cause (i.e. a reasonably based belief) to believe that: (1) an incident of domestic violence occurred; and (2) that the victim needs a temporary restraining order to protect them against future acts of domestic violence.What Happens When a Temporary Restraining Order Is Entered?
The individual accused of domestic violence is subject to dramatic consequences when a temporary restraining order is entered. They are prevented from having any further contact with the victim and removed from any residence that they share with the plaintiff. Failure to comply with the restraints imposed results in a charge for contempt for violating the temporary restraining order.When Are Police Required to Make a Domestic Violence Arrest?
Where a law enforcement officer responding to a reported incident of domestic violence finds that there is probable cause to believe that domestic violence has in fact occurred, the law enforcement officer shall arrest the person who committed the offense and sign a criminal complaint if:
- The victim exhibits any signs of injury caused by the alleged act of violence;
- A warrant is in effect for the arrest;
- There is probable cause to believe that the person violated N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9 (contempt of court order)
- There is probable cause to believe that weapon, as defined by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1, has been involved in the commission of the act of domestic violence by the perpetrator.
- Any weapons seized in the course of this prosecution must be returned except where precluded by court order.
From here, the office is bound to make clear the fact that the criminal laws and civil remedies will be enforced without regard to the fact that the violence grew out of a domestic situation. Therefore, the crimes listed under the Domestic Violence Act are still treated as their various offenses, whether it be assault, homicide, sexual assault, etc., and the fact that it occurred in a domestic setting is an aggravating factor that adds penalties to the offenses.Can the Police Sign a Temporary Restraining Order?
No. The victim of domestic violence is the only person who can sign a restraining order under normal circumstance. Police can, however, request that the judge impose a no contact order.What Happens if a Restraining Order Is Already in Place?
A purposeful or knowing violation of a domestic violence order may be prosecuted as criminal contempt. This includes an order releasing from custody a defendant charged with an offense of domestic violence that orders limited contact with the victim or their relatives.
For sentencing purposes, it is a fourth degree crime if the conduct which constitutes the violation is a crime or a disorderly persons offense. With certain exception, if the conduct is not a crime or disorderly persons offense a knowing violation of provisions of the order which conduct by itself does not constitute a criminal offense is a disorderly persons offense.
There are five exceptions to prosecution of this kind for criminal contempt:
- A violation of an order providing for parenting time;
- A violation of an order directing the defendant to pay monetary compensation;
- A violation of an order directing a defendant to make rent payments;
- An order requiring defendant to receive counseling; or
- A violation of an order granting a party temporary possession of personal property.
Any person convicted of a second or subsequent non-indictable domestic violence contempt charge must serve a minimum term of 30 days in jail. Therefore in order to get a conviction under this offense, the state must prove that an order was entered under the Domestic Violence Act. Second, the state must prove that the defendant violated that order. Lastly, they must prove that the defendant acted purposely or knowingly and prove that such conduct which constituted the violation of the order also constituted a crime or disorderly persons offense.Domestic Violence Attorneys in Toms River New Jersey
The relief that may be granted to an individual if domestic violence is found can have be dramatic and have significant ramifications for an accused. It is therefore absolutely imperative to seek an experienced experienced lawyer if you are facing allegations of domestic violence. Our attorneys, including our several former prosecutors, are prepared to defend you against allegations of domestic violence throughout Ocean County, including Lacey, Lakewood, Plumsted, Lakehurst and Lacey. If you or someone you know has been charged with a Domestic Violence offense in Ocean County, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall. Lawyers are ready to take your calls 24/7 at (732) 286-6500.