When you're facing a criminal charge of domestic violence, you might fear the financial ramifications enough to consider cutting costs by defending yourself. This is the biggest mistake you could possibly make when moving through the criminal justice system. The outcome of a criminal case that involves allegations of violence can impact your future criminal record, reputation, and livelihood. Here are three of the most serious consequences of foregoing a defense attorney in a domestic violence case.
No-Contact and Restraining Order Violation
It is very common in New Jersey for a criminal court judge to include a protection or no-contact order in the conditions of your bail or bond. These temporary orders are issued at the judge's discretion whether or not the alleged victim has requested one. Your case may also include a restraining order issued by a family court judge at the victim's request and can be made final at the end of the criminal proceedings.
Both no-contact orders and restraining orders can have devastating effects on your life. They may prevent you from being able to stay in—or even enter—your home or see your children. If you violate one of these orders by contacting the alleged victim in any way, you can face severe legal ramifications. This is true even if the accuser contacts you first and you simply respond.
Unfair Plea Bargain
When you're unfamiliar with the legal system, it is easy to see all sides as one overarching structure—however, this not at all the case. A criminal case is an adversarial proceeding between you and the state of New Jersey- not the person who accused you of the crime. A plea agreement offered to you by the prosecution is not necessarily designed with your future in mind. You will also be on your own in finding accurate information about the long-term consequences of having either the original charge or the reduced charge on your criminal record, such as a lifetime ban on firearm purchases.
Identifying valid legal defenses against criminal charges and presenting yourself professionally in a courtroom are skills that take years of education and experience to master. Be realistic about what is at stake when you consider attempting to defend yourself against a domestic violence charge. Once you stand in front of the judge who holds your fate and realize that you aren't prepared to defend yourself properly, it is too late to prevent the potentially devastating consequences.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
When you hire a criminal defense attorney, they are committing to defend your legal rights according to the United States Constitution. Your attorney can argue against the necessity for a protection or restraining order or at least help you understand the consequences of violating one. They can advise you on any proposed plea agreement from the point of view that is looking out for you and only you. They will also represent you in court and display a thorough understanding of which defenses are legally valid and how to present them.
The Lento Law Firm
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a longtime advocate for those accused of committing crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence in New Jersey. If you're ready to speak with a professional and be treated with respect throughout your criminal case, contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to arrange a consultation.