New Jersey's Domestic Violence Prevention Act applies to protect some family members but not others, depending on each case's circumstances. If you face charges or allegations that you committed domestic violence against a family, your retained New Jersey criminal defense attorney should help you evaluate the allegation and determine whether a charge meets the elements of the New Jersey domestic violence upgrade for other crimes. Retain premier New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for your winning defense of domestic violence upgrades to other criminal charges. Domestic violence allegations are serious matters having long-term consequences far beyond any penalties for the criminal charges. Retain the best available criminal defense counsel.
New Jersey Domestic Violence Law
To understand how New Jersey domestic violence law reaches or doesn't reach certain family members, you must first understand the structure of New Jersey domestic violence charges. Many states name a specific domestic violence crime. New Jersey isn't among those states. New Jersey instead upgrades certain crimes for domestic violence enhancements when those crimes occur against certain domestic victims. Under N.J. Stat. 2C:25-19a, crimes qualifying for domestic violence upgrade include homicide, assault, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, terroristic threats, harassment, lewdness, stalking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, criminal restraint, criminal mischief, and burglary. No matter whom the defendant's actions affected, prosecutors cannot charge a domestic violence enhancement without first having evidence supporting each element of at least one of the above crimes.
Qualifying Domestic Relationships
The defendant's crime must also have been against a qualifying domestic victim for prosecutors to seek a domestic violence enhancement of the underlying crime. Qualifying victims can include family members meeting certain other conditions. Under N.J. Stat. 2C:25-19d, qualifying domestic violence victims include (1) adults and emancipated minors subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or other present or former household member; (2) those with whom the perpetrator has or is about to have a child in common; and (3) those with whom the perpetrator has had a dating relationship. The full statute reads as follows:
“‘Victim of domestic violence' means a person protected under this act and shall include any person who is 18 years of age or older or who is an emancipated minor and who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present household member or was at any time a household member. ‘Victim of domestic violence' also includes any person, regardless of age, who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has a child in common, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common, if one of the parties is pregnant. ‘Victim of domestic violence' also includes any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.”
Family Members Covered
A defendant best reads the above statute closely with the defendant's retained criminal defense attorney to know whether a family member can be a victim of domestic violence, and whether the defendant committing a qualifying crime against that victim can face a domestic violence upgrade. But to parse the statute generally, the family members who routinely qualify as victims for protection under the domestic violence statute are only spouses, including former spouses, and persons with whom the defendant has had or is about to have a child. For other family members to qualify as domestic violence victims, like grandparents, parents, siblings, and emancipated children, they must at some time have been members of the defendant's household. Most parents, siblings, and children would usually have lived with the defendant at some point, but the prosecution must prove so.
Family Members Not Covered
Once again, a defendant's best way to determine whether a family member is not the defendant's domestic violence victim for purposes of a charge enhancement is to read the full statute with the defendant's retained criminal defense attorney. But to parse the statute in general, family members who are not qualifying domestic violence victims include grandparents, parents, siblings, and children who have never been members of the defendant's household. Family members who do not qualify as domestic violence victims also include unemancipated minor children. Domestic-violence-like crimes committed against minor children would fall under other, child-abuse statutes.
Defending Family Member Domestic Violence Charges
Successfully defending domestic violence upgrades for crimes allegedly committed against family members requires aggressive and effective representation from a skilled and experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Your retained criminal defense attorney will first confirm whether the alleged family member victim qualifies for domestic violence prevention under New Jersey's Domestic Violence Prevention Act. Your retained criminal defense attorney will also gather exonerating evidence disproving one or more elements of the criminal charge and domestic violence enhancement. Your criminal defense attorney will also gather evidence in mitigation of any charge for which the prosecution has supporting evidence. Your aggressive and effective defense will also include your retained attorney's challenge to the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses and the admissibility of their testimony or the admissibility of any physical, recorded, or electronic or documentary evidence. Aggressive defense may also include motions to exclude and for judgment as a matter of law based on gaps in the prosecution evidence. Winning defense representation is available for New Jersey domestic violence charges.
Premier New Jersey Domestic Violence Defense
New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm criminal defense team are available for your aggressive and effective defense of New Jersey domestic violence charges, whether involving family members or other alleged victims. Attorney Lento has successfully defended many deserving individuals against false, exaggerated, and unsupported New Jersey domestic violence enhancements to criminal charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain attorney Lento for a winning domestic violence defense.