The target outcome for each domestic violence case in New Jersey differs between defendants.
Some defendants are falsely accused, or were clearly defending themselves in an instance where domestic violence occurred. In such cases, a dismissal or acquittal may be the only acceptable outcome.
In other cases where the evidence in the defendant's favor is not strong, or the defendant has admitted to making an error in judgment, a reduction in charges may be a more realistic—and acceptable—outcome.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents those accused of domestic violence in New Jersey. Lento and his team will help you determine whether a reduction in charges should be the target for your case and will help you seek such a reduction to minimize the harm of a domestic violence charge.
What Charges Qualify as Domestic Violence in New Jersey?
New Jersey considers certain criminal offenses to be domestic violence when they occur between spouses, former spouses, dating partners, roommates, and certain other individuals. If you're unclear on whether your alleged offenses qualify as domestic violence in New Jersey, attorney Lento can clarify.
There are several offenses which, when they occur between qualifying parties, trigger New Jersey's domestic violence statutes. Such offenses include:
● Criminal coercion
● Criminal mischief
● False imprisonment
● Terroristic threats (including threats to kill)
● Sexual assault/criminal sexual contact
● Criminal trespass
● Criminal restraint
Many of these charges are quite serious, and rise to the level of an indictable offense. A conviction for charges like sexual assault, assault, terroristic threats, and burglary could result in prison time and significant fines. No matter which specific charge you're facing, though, it's in your interest to seek a lesser charge—unless your attorney advises that you seek a dismissal of charges or an acquittal.
Understand the Consequences If You Don't Secure a Reduced Sentence
When you're facing a domestic violence charge in New Jersey, you must consider both the short- and long-term consequences of a conviction. Legal consequences are one thing, but you must also consider that a conviction for an indictable offense may:
● Prevent you from obtaining certain jobs
● Restrict your ability to secure quality housing
● Interfere with your custody of your children
● Keep you in contact with the criminal justice system even once you've been released
● Create other hardships that you may not face if you are able to plea to less serious charges
An attorney is best positioned to review your case and determine which lesser charges you may be able to plead to. Of course, the prosecutor in your case will also play an instrumental role in determining whether a plea bargain is possible and what the terms of the plea would be.
What Lesser Charges May You Seek as Part of a Plea Bargain?
Section III (A) of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice's Domestic Violence Student Manual lists homicide, assault, terroristic threats, and kidnapping in the highest tier of domestic offenses. The state may try these offenses with great fervor, and you may face severe legal penalties for a conviction.
If you face these or any other charges that demand you seek a reduced sentence, then your attorney can advise you on which lesser charges are realistically attainable. Some examples of original charges, and reduced charges that you might be able to plea down to, are:
● For a charge of homicide, you may seek a manslaughter charge
● For a charge of kidnapping, you may seek a charge of false imprisonment or criminal restraint
● For a charge of assault, you may seek a charge of criminal mischief
Each case is unique. Some prosecutors may be more willing to reduce your charges than others. Certain offenses may be easier to reduce than others. The many variables that exist when seeking to reduce a sentence make it critical that you hire a competent attorney to represent you.
An effective attorney could be the difference between you serving time and carrying the stigma of an indictable offense through the rest of your life, or you avoiding such life-changing consequences because of a reduced charge.
How Do You Know If Reduced Charges Are an Acceptable Outcome for Your Case?
No two domestic violence cases in New Jersey are exactly alike. You cannot make assumptions about your own case but should rather have an experienced attorney review the details.
Your attorney will consider several factors as they weigh whether to seek a plea bargain or to fight for an acquittal, including:
● How willing the prosecutor is to negotiate a plea bargain in good faith
● The nature of evidence in your case (including whether it suggests your innocence or guilt)
● The nature of any witness or victim testimony in your case
● The specific charges that you face and the potential legal consequences that come with a conviction
● The likelihood, in your attorney's opinion, that you could be convicted if your case goes to trial
● Your own opinion on whether you'd like to seek a plea deal or fight the charges against you
There is much to consider. Your lawyer will work directly with you to assess your case. Ultimately, your lawyer should provide an honest assessment of your circumstances. Your reputation, future, and possibly your freedom may be on the line, and you deserve an attorney who will be completely honest about your case.
Why Should I Hire Joseph D. Lento to Defend Me Against Domestic Violence Charges in New Jersey?
Joseph D. Lento is the attorney who will be honest about your case. Lento's only interest is minimizing the harm that clients face when they're charged with domestic violence offenses. Whether this means fighting to dismiss your charges or negotiating for the most favorable plea deal available, Lento will seek the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones.
Call The Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case. You can also contact the firm online to submit your case details.