Domestic violence is a crime that's taken very seriously in Mercer County. Because of the county's tough stance on this crime, Mercer County authorities tend to aggressively pursue and prosecute those who are accused. For the most part, this is a great thing. Innocent people who are subjected to abuse deserve justice. But the falsely accused must not be overlooked in these situations.
Merely being accused of domestic violence creates an array of issues regardless of whether you are truly innocent or guilty because it's such a stigmatized crime. A charge has been known to completely change people's lives for the worse, by affecting employment, schooling, your relationships with your family, and more. The repercussions defendants experience after a conviction, though warranted, are even more devastating.
If you live in Mercer County and have been arrested for domestic violence, your main priority should be to seek legal counsel. You're going to need the help of a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of New Jersey law and understands the system. It's also important you get a basic understanding of the gravity of domestic violence charges and their penalties. So here's a basic overview of domestic violence for Mercer County residents.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in New Jersey?
According to New Jersey statutes, domestic violence is defined as the actual or threatened physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse of an individual by someone with whom they have or had an intimate relationship.
In order for a relationship to be considered “intimate” by law, it must be characterized by the following: separation, marriage, cohabitation in the past or present, (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
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Criminal restraint
- Sexual assault
- 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.
There are 12 municipal courts in Mercer County that hear domestic violence cases. Where you are tried will depend on where you were charged. There are two Superior Courts in Mercer County that hear these cases, one in the Mercer County Civil Courthouse and the Mercer County Criminal Courthouse. Lower level offenses are sent to the Municipal Courts while indictable offenses go to the Superior Court.
Charged With Domestic Violence? I Can Help
If you've been charged with domestic violence in Mercer 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.