Totowa NJ Domestic Violence Lawyer: Answering Your Domestic Violence FAQ’s
Domestic Abuse Attorney in Passaic County, New Jersey
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is the occurrence of one of more designated criminal acts inflicted upon a person protected by the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991” by an adult or emancipated minor. Protected persons are defined as:
- Present or former household member
- Dating relationship
- Child in common
- Emancipated minor
Are domestic violence cases handled differently than other criminal cases?
Yes. Domestic violence is taken very seriously in the State of New Jersey. Each Prosecutor’s Offices has a designated unit (“DV Unit”) and assigned Assistant Prosecutors that only prosecute domestic violence cases. Examples include:
- Terroristic Threats
- Aggravated Assault
- Simple Assault
- Criminal Mischief
Why does a domestic violence incident result in arrest?
Under the law, a police officer must arrest a domestic violence suspect and sign a criminal complaint against that person if there is probable cause to believe an act of domestic violence has occurred AND the victim shows signs of injury. (If the victim shows no signs of injury, but states that an injury has occurred, the arrest is discretionary – meaning that if the officer determines, after considering all the factors, that there is probable cause, the suspect will still be arrested and charged.)
What types of penalties are associated with a domestic violence conviction?
A wide range of penalties can be associated with a domestic violence conviction. The penalties will be determined by the degree of the crime. Most seriously, a domestic violence conviction can result in a lengthy term in New Jersey State Prison, a period of which must be served without the benefit of parole. In other instances, a domestic violence conviction will only result in a period of probation. It is important to remember that there may also be collateral consequences related to a domestic violence conviction, such as a prohibition against the ownership of weapons.
When does the FRO hearing occur?
Courts will generally attempt to hold the FRO hearing within 10 days after the entry of the TRO. Courts may grant an adjournment or continuance if either party requests one for the purpose of obtaining or consulting with an attorney, securing a witness, or other good cause, unless the delay would create an extreme hardship on the other party, or there has been an excessive delay in obtaining an attorney.
The TRO against me was dismissed. Why are the criminal charges still pending?
Dismissal of a TRO does not result in an automatic dismissal of associated criminal charges. The TRO is a Family Court matter, while the associated criminal charges are a Criminal Court matter. The Family Court does not control the Criminal Court, and vice versa.
What is a “No Contact” Order?
A “No Contact” Order is an order entered by the Criminal Court as a condition of a criminal matter that prohibits contact with the victim. Even if a TRO was filed and dismissed, a “No Contact” Order can still be entered. Contact includes verbal, written, telephonic (calls, text messages, voicemails, etc.), electronic (e-mail, social media, etc.), and can even extend to contact through third parties acting on your behalf. Violations can have serious results, including bail revocation, a violation of probation, or the filing of additional criminal charges.
What is a “Contempt” charge?
“Contempt” is codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9. If you have been charged with “Contempt,” the State is alleging that you violated a domestic violence order. Note that even though the underlying domestic violence order is not a criminal conviction, contempt is a criminal matter.
What if the victim wants to drop the charges against me?
If the victim wants to drop domestic violence charges (i.e., TRO and FRO), this can normally be accomplished by simply appearing in Court (usually the Family Part of the Superior Court). If the victim wants to drop criminal charges, however, this is not as simple – because once criminal charges are filed, the State then makes the decision as to whether to proceed. Obviously, the victim’s input is important, but it will not always control the State since some charges can be proved without the victim. For instance, if the domestic violence incident resulted in Aggravated Assault charges and, at the time of arrest, the victim gave a statement against the defendant and the police took pictures of the victim’s injuries, the charges can technically be proved without the victim.
How much input will the victim have in my criminal case?
Generally speaking, the victim will have input throughout the case on issues ranging from the amount of bail to plea offers.
Domestic violence laws are complex and highly specialized. For those reasons, if you find yourself in a situation where you or a loved one has been charged with a crime as a result of a domestic violence incident, it is important that you hire a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney who can attack the State’s case and secure the best possible result.
The consequences of a domestic violence incident can be serious. Alissa D. Hascup can help. Contact her anytime for a free initial consultation.