Domestic violence is a serious problem throughout the United States, and New Jersey is no exception. Each year many thousands of cases involving domestic violence are filed. In fact, according to a study done by the Division of Violence Prevention, which is part of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), every minute twenty people in the United States are abused by family members and significant others.
Although men also experience domestic abuse, most victims of domestic violence are women. Women in households of less than $50,000 in income are especially susceptible as they often have no means to support themselves and, therefore, find it more difficult to leave their abusive relationship.
When hearing the term “domestic violence,” many tend to assume physical abuse; however, domestic abuse can take the form of verbal, emotional, and psychological behaviors as well as physical acts.The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
In 1990 New Jersey passed the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to protect its residents against domestic abuse and violence.Criminal Behaviors Considered Crimes of Domestic Violence
In New Jersey the following fourteen crimes are considered acts of domestic violence when the offenses are committed against a person protected under the Protection of Domestic Violence Act. The following are brief summaries of those crimes. Keep in mind that some acts might encompass more than one crime.
When one causes the death of another person, it is called homicide.
Assault occurs when someone hurts or tries to hurt another person without legal justification. Whether the charge is simple or aggravated assault depends upon factors such as the severity of the victim’s injury and whether or not a weapon was used.
- Terroristic Threats
The threat to commit a violent crime against another person or to kill another person—either the victim or someone close to the victim—in order to instill great fear in another person may be considered a terroristic threat.
Stalking involves the repetition of behaviors such as staring for long periods of time, following, phoning, appearing at one’s workplace, or harassing with the intent to make the person feel frightened or uncomfortable.
Kidnapping is the forceful, threatening, or deceptive taking of a victim to another location.
- Criminal Restraint
Keeping someone in a place where he or she is at risk of serious bodily harm or subjecting one to unwilling servitude is criminal restraint.
- False Imprisonment
False imprisonment also involves keeping a person where he or she does not want to be; however, it differs from criminal restraint in that it does not require any risk of serious bodily injury.
- Sexual Assault
The use of force or coercion to sexually penetrate another person is sexual assault. Force and coercion can be interpreted to mean any time the victim does not freely consent.
- Criminal Sexual Contact
Touching the victim’s thigh, groin, buttocks, or breast without the victim’s consent in order to achieve sexual gratification or to cause the victim to feel humiliated or degraded is criminal sexual contact.
Lewd behavior can be defined as being crude and offensive in a sexual way. Lewdness is when a person commits a lewd act in front of someone who would not want to see that act. Criminal Mischief
Criminal mischief occurs when an abuser breaks or damages one’s belongings.
If someone breaks into a house or other secured building with the intent to commit a crime when inside, that person has committed an act of burglary. It is also burglary if instead the person secretly hides out in the building without permission with the intent to commit the crime.
- Criminal Trespass
If someone enters or hides out in a house or other building and knows that he or she does not have permission to be there, that person may be guilty of criminal trespass. It may also be criminal trespass if a person is outside of the building and peeking in at inappropriate times; an example would be watching someone through a window at night.
Harassment encompasses a variety of behaviors: making offensive remarks; offensive touching, such as hitting, kicking, or shoving; making violent threats; and other acts that are intended to alarm or pester. If these acts are done repeatedly and are meant to frighten or seriously annoy you, the person may be guilty of harassment.
- Amendment to the Domestic Violence Act
In August 2015 an amendment to the act added a fifteenth offense: coercion.
Coercion is a threat made with the intention of unlawfully restricting the victim’s freedom of action in order to coerce a course of conduct; it includes the performance of any act anticipated to harm the victim’s health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.
According to the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Law, the following persons are to be considered victims of domestic violence if they are subject to one or more of the crimes just described:
- An 18-year-old or older or an emancipated minor who has been subjected to an act of domestic violence by a present or former spouse or other member of his or her household;
- Anyone, without regard to age, who has been the victim of an act of domestic abuse by someone with whom one has or is about to have a child; and
- Anyone, regardless of age, who is the victim of a behavior considered an act of domestic violence by someone whom the victim is or was dating.
According to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Law, in order to be charged with a domestic-violence offense, the assailant must be either 18 years of age or older or an emancipated minor. If not, the case will instead be governed by New Jersey’s juvenile-delinquency laws.Guidelines for Police Procedures
New Jersey has specific guidelines in place to help police officers deal with domestic-violence issues.
A mandatory arrest is called for when the officer sees signs of injury. If both parties are injured, the officer must take several factors into consideration when determining whom to arrest:
- Severity of the injuries
- History of domestic violence
- Any other relevant factors
In any case, if the officer has probable cause to believe an incident of domestic violence has occurred, he or she has the authority to make a discretionary arrest.Get the Help You Need
If you feel you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, it is important that you seek help as soon as possible. Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) are almost always granted when domestic violence allegations are made. A hearing for a Final Restraining Order must be held within ten days. It is important to have experienced legal representation at this hearing.
If a Final Restraining Order is granted, it is permanent. The consequences can include granting exclusive possession of residence, granting temporary custody of children, punitive damages, medical coverage for the victim, and limiting parenting time with children.
Aretsky Law Group, P.C., is committed to ensuring that victims of domestic violence are protected; however, we are equally dedicated to defending the rights of those who are falsely accused of spousal abuse. In addition to our experience handling family law matters, we have significant experience handling criminal-defense matters. Our broad experience in these areas of law puts us in a position to effectively deal with domestic-violence claims.Contact Our New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyers
If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence or if you have been accused of spousal abuse, please contact Aretsky Law Group, P.C. You may call us 24/7 at 800-537-4154.