Domestic violence is a serious problem throughout the United States, and New Jersey is no exception. While most claims of domestic violence are genuine, false accusations of abuse do occur. Sometimes people make untrue or exaggerated claims out of anger, the desire for revenge, or to get what they want in a divorce or child custody case. False domestic violence accusations can have devastating consequences for the unjustly accused defendant, so it's helpful to know your options so you can properly defend yourself against such heinous accusations.
Domestic Violence and New Jersey State Law
What are the options for a person facing false domestic violence charges? New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act defines “domestic violence” (i.e., harassment, stalking, assault) and sets forth a process by which an individual can file a domestic violence complaint and obtain a restraining order (a protective order that restricts contact between the “applicant” requesting the restraining order and the defendant against whom the restraining order is issued) against an alleged abuser. These restraining orders can be temporary or permanent, and they can mean reduced contact with loved ones, as well as loss of social contact with friends and associates due to the social stigma of having a restraining order issued against you.
When a restraining order is issued in a civil (non-criminal) case, the applicant's standard of proof is a preponderance of evidence, which means the applicant only needs to present enough evidence that it is more likely than not that they have a reason for concern. It's easy to see how a person making a false accusation of domestic violence might enlist the help of their friends as “witnesses” against you and find ways to contradict any evidence and statements that you might present.
Consequences of Failing to Defend Against False Domestic Abuse Claims
Failure to adequately defend yourself can result in the following severe consequences for a person found to have committed domestic violence:
- A restraining order may be imposed, with severe penalties for violation
- A criminal record
- Loss of child custody or reduction of parenting time
- Jail time
- Fines and fees
- Loss of financial security (problems obtaining financial assistance)
- Job problems (issues getting hired or advancing in career)
- Education problems (challenges to getting admitted to school or finishing a degree/program on time)
- Loss of housing stability/ownership (problems getting or keeping housing)
- Loss of weapons and firearms
Attorney Joseph D. Lento Specializes in Criminal Defense in New Jersey
With the stakes so high, mounting a proper defense against a false claim of domestic violence is crucial. Joseph Lento is experienced in representing defendants in domestic violence hearings and is well versed in New Jersey's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and other applicable laws and procedures. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is committed to zealously representing unjustly accused criminal defendants in New Jersey and throughout the United States. If you or your loved one is facing an accusation of domestic abuse, contact the Lento Law Firm online or at 888-535-3686.