Domestic violence cases are never easy. These cases involve a high level of emotions and can pit families against each other. Though domestic violence is most commonly associated with romantic partners, it can affect children, roommates, and other members of the family. Domestic violence is a serious matter for all parties involved and should always be treated as such. Defending a domestic violence charge can be a scary and emotional experience.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Haddonfield or are worried that you might be accused of domestic violence, contact the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC at (856) 310-9800 right away.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a serious problem. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by a partner. Almost half of all men and women have experienced some type of psychological abuse. In response to this issue, the state of New Jersey created The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. The act required additional training and specific legal definitions as to what qualifies as domestic violence. Additionally, the state issues an annual report detailing the incidences of domestic violence.
The most recent report in 2017 found that there has been a 3 percent drop in domestic violence filings from the previous year. In New Jersey, domestic violence occurs between a person and their spouse, child, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-spouse/romantic partner, a person who currently resides in the same household, or a person with whom they share a child. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 lists 19 separate crimes that qualify as domestic violence. These include:
- Terroristic attacks;
- Criminal restraint;
- False imprisonment;
- Sexual assault;
- Criminal sexual contact;
- Criminal mischief;
- Criminal trespass;
- Criminal coercion;
- Contempt of a domestic violence order;
- Any other crime involving risk or death or serious bodily harm;
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?
A domestic violence charge is never something you want to ignore. Far too often we hear from clients that they thought that it was a petty charge that would eventually go away on its own. When we talk to these clients, the charge has already damaged their lives. New Jersey has harsh penalties for those accused of domestic violence. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, it’s important to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
In New Jersey, there are two types of assault—simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is the lesser of the two charges and occurs when a person:
- Attempts to cause physical bodily harm;
- Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Attempts to cause fear of physical harm.
Simple assault is a disorderly person’s offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Aggravated assault typically involves the use of a weapon. A person is guilty of aggravated assault when they:
- Attempt to or actually causes physical harm “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life”;
- Attempt to or actually causes harm with a deadly weapon;
- Recklessly injures another person with a deadly weapon; or
- Point a gun at another person in an attempt to cause fear to another person
A person can be charged with second, third, or fourth-degree assault. Jail time can range from 18 months to 10 years, depending on the severity of the crime.
Under New Jersey law, a person is guilty of stalking if they repeatedly survey, harass, or follow another person in a manner that causes that person to fear for their personal safety. A stalking conviction will usually result in a permanent restraining order. In most cases, stalking is a crime of the fourth degree, unless the perpetrator is under a restraining order or they have previously stalked the same victim. The penalty for stalking is up to 18 months in jail.
The Non-Criminal Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
A domestic violence charge extends far beyond the legal consequences. A conviction can affect your job, your family, and your reputation. We can’t stress enough how important it is to take these charges seriously. Areas that a domestic violence charge can affect include:
- Your job: A criminal conviction can affect your ability to work at your job. This is especially true if you work in law enforcement, education, or the medical field. These professions often have a zero-tolerance policy for criminal records. If you are looking for a job, a domestic violence conviction will appear on your criminal background check.
- Custody disputes: It’s not uncommon for charges of domestic violence to come up during a divorce or custody dispute. If the court believes you are a danger to your child they may restrict or eliminate your time with your child. It’s normal for emotions to fly during a divorce or custody situation, but it is never okay to become violent.
- Your personal relationships: Abuse is never okay. Even if your domestic violence charge does not result in termination, it can affect your professional reputation. It can also affect your ability to coach, volunteer, or participate in school functions. If a judge issues a restraining order, it can affect where you can and cannot go.
- Your ability to own a weapon: Once law enforcement receives a call of domestic violence, responding officers have the right to immediately confiscate any weapons on the premises. If you are convicted, the court may refuse to return your weapons and revoke any firearms licenses.
Know When to Hire an Experienced Haddonfield Domestic Violence Attorney
Heightened emotions can make it difficult to effectively defend yourself in a domestic violence case. At the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, we will aggressively fight for your rights if you were arrested for domestic violence in Haddonfield, or anywhere in South Jersey, including Camden or Camden County. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call Matthew V. Portella at (856) 310-9800 or write to us using our confidential contact page today.
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“I want to thank Mr. Portella for taking my case. What an amazing law office and attorney. He is very professional and got all of my charges dismissed. If I ever need an attorney again, Mr. Portella will be the one I call. Thank you again! -A.M.”>