Domestic violence is a serious crime in just about every state. Due to the nature of these allegations and the obligation to protect vulnerable parties, Atlantic County authorities have become extremely aggressive in pursuing and prosecuting those accused of committing this crime.
While there are abusers who harm innocent people and deserve every bit of the consequences they reap, the falsely accused must not be overlooked in these situations. Merely being accused of domestic violence creates an array of issues for you, period, regardless of whether you are truly innocent or guilty. Domestic violence is incredibly stigmatized in society, and therefore has the potential to impact nearly every aspect of your life before you're given the chance to fight for your innocence. A charge can affect your employment, your schooling, your relationship with your children, and can completely ruin your reputation. The repercussions of a conviction are even more devastating.
If you live in Atlantic County and have been arrested for domestic violence, it's imperative you seek legal counsel. You're going to need the help of an attorney who knows the ins and outs of New Jersey law and understands the system. It's also important that you understand the gravity of domestic violence charges and the penalties associated with them. So here's a broad overview of domestic violence for Atlantic County residents.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in New Jersey?
Domestic violence is the actual or threatened physical, sexual, emotional, or economic abuse of an individual by someone with whom they have or had an intimate relationship.
In order for a relationship to be deemed “intimate” by law, it must be characterized by the following: marriage, separation, cohabitation in the present or past, (ex) boyfriend/girlfriend, or people with children together.
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act specifies 18 criminal acts that constitute domestic violence if they are committed against an intimate partner.
- False imprisonment
- Criminal sexual contact
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- Sexual assault
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Criminal coercion
- Contempt of a domestic violence order and
- Any crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury
Domestic Violence Penalties
The charge and conviction of a domestic violence crime depend largely on the underlying criminal offense committed. As noted above, there are 18 criminal offenses that could potentially constitute a domestic violence crime. These crimes range in severity from a first-degree crime (the most serious) to a fourth-degree crime (the least serious); all of which will result in fines, restitution and prison time.
First-degree crimes will lead to a prison sentence between 10 and 20 years and a fine of up to $200,000. If the crime is murder, however, the court can increase the years a defendant spends in prison.
Second-degree crimes warrant a prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years and a fine up to $150,000.
Third-degree crimes will result in a sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.
The Atlantic County Municipal Court and the Criminal Division of the Superior Court both have the authority to hear domestic violence cases. Lower level offenses are sent to the Municipal Court while indictable offenses go to the Superior Court.
Charged With Domestic Violence? I Can Help.
If you've been charged with domestic violence in Atlantic County, it's critical you secure the representation of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You should never defend yourself in any case, let alone a case as serious as this one, and you won't have to with the help of the Lento Law Firm.
For a consultation, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento by phone at 888-535-3686 or online.