Hire a Top Morristown Domestic Violence Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
In New Jersey, domestic violence is defined as the commission of certain criminal offenses against a family member. Family members protected under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) include children, spouses, former spouses, parents of shared children, boyfriends, girlfriends, and any other individuals who live with (or who previously lived with) the perpetrator of the crime. Penalties include those for the underlying offense as well as additional domestic violence-specific penalties, and being convicted of domestic violence in Morristown could mean losing your home, losing your job and losing the privilege to spend time with your children. Morristown domestic violence lawyer Scott Gorman provides experienced legal representation for individuals who are facing domestic violence charges in Morristown and all of New Jersey. Scott can act quickly to protect you against unnecessary consequences.
Crimes Prosecuted as Domestic Violence in New Jersey
When you are arrested for domestic violence, the criminal justice process moves swiftly. In fact, you could be at risk of losing certain rights before trial; and, unlike other criminal cases where it can take months to go to trial, you may have a critical hearing that may be scheduled in a matter of days. As a result, if you are facing domestic violence allegations in Morristown, it is important that you speak with an attorney immediately. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call 973-796-3800 now.
Assault in New Jersey
Under Section 2C:12-1 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, assault crimes fall into two categories: simple assault and aggravated assault. Both types of crimes can trigger domestic violence allegations when perpetrated against a protected family member. Additionally, while assault can involve causing physical harm, the assault statute covers attempts to cause physical harm or “put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury” as well.
New Jersey law defines two separate kidnapping offenses as well. Under Section 2C:13-1, a person can face domestic violence charges involving kidnapping if he or she:
- “[U]nlawfully removes another from the place where he is found or if he unlawfully confines another with the purpose of holding that person for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage;” or,
- “[U]nlawfully removes another . . . or  unlawfully confines another for a substantial period . . . (1) To facilitate commission of any crime or flight thereafter; (2) To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another; . . . or (4) To permanently deprive a parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian of custody of the victim.”
Child Abuse & Endangerment Allegations
Section 9:6-3 of the Code of Criminal Justice defines offenses related to child abuse and endangerment. These include the offenses of cruelty, neglect, molestation and endangering the welfare of a child. In cases involving allegations of child abuse or endangerment, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) may step in and immediately seek to remove the affected child or children from the alleged perpetrator’s custody.
In New Jersey, the crime of stalking is defined as, “purposefully or knowingly engag[ing] in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.” In the context of a domestic violence case, this involves conduct directed at a current or former spouse or partner, a parent of a shared child, or any other household member. Examples of conduct that may lead to stalking allegations under Section 2C:12-10 of the Code of Criminal Justice include:
- Repeatedly maintaining visual or physical proximity
- Following, monitoring, observing or surveying
- Threatening or communicating about the victim with a third party
- Interfering with the victim’s property
- Repeatedly harassing or threatening by means other than communication
Sexual violence crimes are defined in Section 2C:14-2 of the Code of Criminal Justice. The Code of Criminal Justice does not use the term “rape,” but instead defines the crimes of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. The statute applies to sexual offenses committed against minors and adults.
Violation of Injunctions
Violating a domestic violence restraining order or injunction can lead to criminal penalties under Section 2C:29-9. This is true even though domestic violence restraining orders are entered in civil proceedings, as discussed below.
Cyberstalking Allegations Can Also be Fought by a Domestic Violence Lawyer
The crime of cyberstalking, or “cyber-harassment,” is defined in Section 2C:33-4.1 of the Code of Criminal Justice. Emails, texts and even social media posts can trigger cyberstalking allegations if they involve:
- Threats to commit a crime against the victim or the victim’s property
- Threats to inflict personal injury
- Threats to inflict property damage
- Sending lewd, indecent or obscene material
False Allegations of Domestic Violence
False allegations of domestic violence are common in disputes between spouses and partners; and, due to the swiftness with which domestic violence cases are prosecuted, cases involving false allegations can quickly spiral out of control. If you have been falsely accused of a domestic violence crime in Morristown, you cannot assume that the truth will eventually come out. You need to protect yourself by working to disprove the allegations against you, and you need to speak with a defense lawyer right away. Depending on the circumstances involved, Morristown domestic violence lawyer, Scott Gorman, may be able to use to protect you against false allegations include:
- Constitutional violations
- Evidence of falsity
- Lack of evidence of domestic violence
- Self-defense or defense of a child
A Morristown Domestic Violence Lawyer Can Help You Fight a Restraining Order
When the police file domestic violence charges, the victim can request a temporary restraining order that a judge can grant ex parte – meaning that the hearing can take place without your presence. Additionally, since this is a civil proceeding that takes place concurrently with your criminal case, the burden of proof for imposing a restraining order is a “preponderance of the evidence” (not “beyond a reasonable doubt”). From presenting evidence of an alibi to presenting witness testimony to contradict your accuser’s story, there are various ways to defend against the imposition of a domestic violence restraining order; and, once again, the best way to protect yourself is to engage an experienced Morristown domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible.
A restraining order can put serious limitations on your family life. Depending on your particular circumstances, a domestic violence restraining order could leave you searching for a new place to live or without direct access to your children while you await a judge’s decision. In New Jersey, there are two types of restraining orders—temporary and final.
While each order is designed to keep distance between the alleged victim and the alleged abuser, you need to know the limitations and legal requirements of each, because any violation, even one you were unaware of at the time, can hurt your case and can result in serious repercussions. No matter which is granted, however, you still should consult with a Morristown domestic violence lawyer to better understand your rights.
Temporary Restraining Order
A temporary restraining order (TRO) can be filed by going to the local county courthouse or police department and reporting that certain acts of domestic violence have been committed. The person who reports the acts can ask for protection under the 1990 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19), which protection can be granted in the form of a TRO.
If a judge determines that the alleged victim is in continued danger from the accused attacker, he or she will issue the order, usually with no prior warning to the other party. When your partner or ex is granted a TRO, police may show up to remove you from the house and they may arrest you. Any firearms in your possession will be taken and will not be returned until you complete a second, separate proceeding, and, in some instances, additional court appearances may be necessary to avoid permanent forfeiture of your firearms.
Final Restraining Order for those Accused of Domestic Violence in New Jersey
A final restraining order (FRO) is the second step following the TRO. Once the TRO is issued, a hearing on the alleged victim’s application for a FRO must take place within ten days of the domestic violence accusation. A FRO has serious, far-reaching effects on not only the current situation, but the rest of an accused attacker’s life.
If a final restraining order has been entered against you, you will be subject to fingerprinting. The Administrative Office of the Courts will keep your name in a central registry that tracks all people who have had domestic violence restraining orders issued against them. If you violate any restraining order at any time, you can be found in contempt of court, and if you commit a second or subsequent violation, you can be sentenced to a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Along with these restrictions, a final restraining order blocks you from possessing a firearm or a purchaser’s identification card. You will not be able to apply for a card in the future either. If you lived in the same home with your alleged victim, you will most likely be unable to return and your ability to see your children will likely be impacted. Custody agreements can take a long time to be worked out, and until that time, you may find yourself completely cut off or severely restricted as to how you can visit your own children.
A temporary restraining order may be more of a nuisance, but it can quickly turn into a final restraining order, which can effectively turn your life upside down. If your partner has issued either order against you, contact a domestic violence attorney right away. Scott Gorman at The Gorman Law Firm will work with you to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.
FAQs: What Happens When You Get Arrested or Convicted of Domestic Violence in Morristown, NJ?
Will I Lose My Child Custody Rights After a Domestic Violence Arrest?
It is possible that you could lose your child custody rights after a domestic violence arrest. The answer to this question depends on the specific facts of your case—including the specific allegations against you, your current child custody arrangement and whether you hire an experienced Morristown domestic violence lawyer to represent you. If your child custody rights are at risk, an experienced lawyer may be able to help you protect them, and you should speak with a lawyer right away to find out what you can (and should) do to give yourself the best chance of preserving your relationship with your children.
Will My Employer Find Out if I Get Arrested or Convicted of Domestic Violence?
Your employer could find out about your domestic violence arrest or conviction in a variety of ways. Arrests, charges, and convictions all go on your record—so if your employer conducts periodic record checks, this could bring your case to light. Additionally, since your criminal case will be a public record, your employer could hear about your case in the media or through word of mouth. Depending on your job and the nature of your employment, you may also have an obligation to disclose your domestic violence arrest or conviction to your employer.
Will a Domestic Violence Arrest Go On My Criminal Record?
Yes, in New Jersey arrests go on your criminal record, and an arrest will stay on your record unless and until you file for expungement (assuming you are eligible—not all domestic violence charges can be expunged). This means that information about your domestic violence arrest will be available to the police, your current employer, prospective employers, colleges and universities, landlords, banks, and other entities.
If you get convicted, your conviction will also go on your criminal record. As you might expect, having a conviction on your record is far worse than having an arrest that did not result in a guilty verdict at trial. While it is important that you hire a Morristown domestic violence lawyer to help you fight against fines, jail time, and other penalties, it is equally important that you hire a lawyer to help you fight to protect your future.
How Will a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Impact My Daily Life?
A domestic violence restraining order can impact your daily life in many different ways. Most immediately, if you currently live with your accuser, you will most likely be forced to leave your home. You will also likely be prohibited from having any contact with your accuser or other family members (such as your children), and you could get arrested if you go too close to your home, your accuser’s place of work or your children’s school.
Domestic violence restraining orders can also impose affirmative requirements. For example, you may be required to attend therapy or counseling, and you may have to pay fines or other costs including your accuser’s attorney’s fees. There are many other possibilities as well, and you will want to hire a lawyer as quickly as possible so that your lawyer can fight to limit the scope of your order.
How Can a Judge Issue a Domestic Violence Restraining Order if I Haven’t Been Convicted?
Many people are surprised to learn that they can face a domestic violence restraining order in New Jersey even if they are never before they get convicted of domestic violence. The reason why this can happen is that the New Jersey courts issue restraining orders in civil proceedings. Your criminal case comes later. But, even though restraining orders are issued in civil proceedings, violating a domestic violence restraining order is still a criminal offense.
How Can I Avoid These Consequences if I Have Been Accused of Domestic Violence?
There are several potential defenses to domestic violence allegations in New Jersey. When you hire Morristown domestic violence lawyer Scott Gorman to represent you, Scott will work quickly to identify all available defenses based on the facts of your case. Among other things, this will involve speaking with you one-on-one, examining the circumstances surrounding your arrest, talking to witnesses, and potentially looking for evidence of false allegations (i.e., text messages or social media posts).
Along with proving that the allegations against you are false (if possible), other examples of potential defenses in domestic violence cases include:
- You have an alibi (you were not present when the alleged incident happened)
- You were acting in self-defense or in defense of someone else
- You were illegally arrested
- The police conducted an illegal search or seizure
- Prosecutors cannot meet their burden of proof based on the available evidence
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with a Morristown Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you are facing a domestic violence charge in Morristown, we encourage you to contact us immediately to discuss your case. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with defense attorney Scott Gorman, call 973-796-3800 or contact us online now.