While domestic violence classes can be taken voluntarily, often, individuals are forced to take them. Defendants charged with a domestic violence offense in New Jersey typically must complete some form of rehabilitative course as one of the court's sanctions.
In New Jersey, classes are sometimes referred to as Batterer Intervention Programs, but all provide counseling to individuals seeking to change their behavior. It will depend on what the presiding judge determines is appropriate for the classes, but they can range anywhere from as little as eight to as many as 52 hours. Although individuals with busy schedules may think a class can be skipped, it can end up landing you in jail.
Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
Typically, domestic violence incidents are coupled with a restraining order. In New Jersey, a restraining order can be issued on little to no evidence, even if the defendant isn't present. Although final restraining orders can come with the imposition of domestic violence class, they may be issued by the judge during a hearing for a temporary restraining order.
If participating in domestic violence classes is a stipulation of a court order, skipping them is a bad idea. Violating a restraining order will result in an additional charge of criminal contempt, even if the restraining order was sought to deter civil action. Criminal contempt in New Jersey domestic violence cases is a fourth-degree crime with penalties of up to 18 months in prison and $25,000 in fines if convicted. A second breach of a restraining order will result in an automatic jail sentence.
Can You Skip a Domestic Violence Class?
When receiving paperwork from the court system after sanctions have been handed down, there will likely be a short window of time to enroll in a domestic violence class. Typically, the period is between seven and 30 days, and you may have to provide the court with a Letter of Enrollment to prove it. Also found on the paperwork will be the number of hours of classes that must be taken, which will depend on the charge's nature and the judge's decision.
Domestic violence classes can be in-person and online. Skipping online courses may not be an issue because they are completed at a person's leisure before a certain date dictated by the court.
In most situations, individuals can have up to three absences for in-person classes that convene for 40 to 52 weeks. Yet, it's important to contact your probation officer to understand what is required for attendance. While scheduling conflicts may exist, the probation officer and the court system will have the final say on whether an absence is warranted.
How a New Jersey Attorney Can Help
You don't want to put weeks of time and effort into a domestic violence class to have one unexcused absence that derails your path toward fulfilling the court's requirements. The course will have to be retaken from the beginning, but the court will likely pursue additional charges if the restraining order is violated.
New Jersey's domestic violence laws are complex, but you can hire professional help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm understand that violations of restraining orders by skipping domestic violence classes can result in severe penalties. Don't wait until it's too late—partner with a proven attorney to protect your rights and reputation by calling 888-535-3686 today or visiting the confidential online consultation form.