Category: Criminal Law
Disorderly Persons Offenses Can Have a Long-Lasting Impact on Your Life in New Jersey
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Explore the Ramifications of Disorderly Persons Convictions for Background Checks and Applications for Future Opportunities in NJ
There are two kinds of disorderly persons offenses, a petty disorderly offense, and a disorderly persons offense, with the former being less severe than the latter. According to New Jersey law, a person detained for either offense is not entitled to have their case brought before a grand jury for indictment or to have a jury trial. For both kinds of disorderly persons offense, the defendant has the right to counsel (either private or public appointed by the judge.) The fact that these charges are at the lower end of the spectrum does not signify nonchalance in terms of consequences. Fines and jail time are possibilities depending on previous charges and compliance with previous court orders. Beyond that, the long-term impacts of being convicted of a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey can relate to background checks, job opportunities, immigration status, and more critical parts of your future.
Common Actions Constituting Disorderly Persons Offenses in NJ
Few of these charges are violent or have the potential to be violent. Possession of drug paraphernalia, simple assault, lewdness, obstructing justice, resisting arrest, writing fraudulent checks, and shoplifting are all actions that can get you charged with a disorderly persons offense. Petty disorderly offenses typically include harassment, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.
Consequences of Disorderly Persons Offenses
For a disorderly persons offense, a judge can put you in jail, charge you steep fines, and require you to attend programs. If you are given probation, you could be assigned to work at a halfway house or a community center. There will also be fines to pay. Your ability to rent a house or apartment, become a foster parent, or adopt a child may also be affected. If you are interested in getting a job with the government that requires a security clearance, you may be hindered by your record. To be a teacher, counselor, bank worker, law enforcement, or join the armed services, having this on your record could affect the outcome. Also, the potential employer may request the applicant’s permission to seek a background check, and the applicant must consent before it can be requested.
Additionally, a disorderly persons charge can cause immigration problems for non-citizens who are in the process of getting a green card, or nationalization can be exacerbated by a disorderly persons charge as they can be considered unethical behavior. This can result in a non-citizen being deemed deportable or inadmissible, or their visa can be canceled.
Disorderly Persons Convictions and Undesired Ramifications on Background Checks
A disorderly persons conviction will show on your criminal record when a background check is run because it is permanent unless you successfully receive an expungement. However, there are times when a complete background check isn’t requested. If a private company with whom you want to work, or a landlord whose apartment you want to rent, performs a background check, they may only request a certain number of years, or perhaps it is a program that limits a search to a certain number of databases. None of which disclose your record. However, it is a bad idea to roll the dice by not talking about your offense up front. You never know if, through other background checks, your record may appear. The consequences of your deception could be charges for fraud.
Larger companies and businesses are more likely to run a complete check than those with less than 20 employees. Younger managers may perceive minor offenses as youthful errors in judgement rather than serious crimes. It is a good idea to do some research before you go in for an interview as to whether the company for which you are applying is known for hiring people whose records are smudged. You may have to accept a job you are less interested in for a while to build up your reputation and job history. Later, you may have less of a problem finding better opportunities.
Another possibility is to clean your record. This is called expungement and it allows for disorderly persons offenses to be removed from your record. Once expunged, they will not appear on any background check, no matter how detailed or thorough. The exception to the general rule applies to jobs in law enforcement and other public positions. Moreover, you will no longer be required to discuss your issue in the past with your hopeful employer in the present.
Process to Expunge a Disorderly Persons Offense in New Jersey
This process can be done on paper or electronically. When you file your petition to expunge your offenses, the system will not correct any mistakes you make or give you any helpful information or advice. Neither will it calculate if you are eligible to submit a petition. It is for those reasons that you should let your lawyer walk you through the process and complete it on your behalf. Any mistakes you make could have a negative effect on the outcome of your request, even if you are eligible. When the court receives your forms, based on the information you and your lawyer submitted, they will or will not confirm your eligibility. If you are found ineligible, the court will most likely refuse your petition for expungement.
It is vital that you and your lawyer put together all relevant information. E-filing makes that much easier than doing it on paper. There is a section where you can retrieve your cases and check to see if all of the information regarding your legal history is correct. There may be errors, so have your lawyer request corrections before you proceed with the process. The system is occasionally incorrect, but by no means regularly inaccurate in listing criminal records from New Jersey. You want to paint yourself as a productive member of society; your job, community work, and family ties all make a difference. For reasons of practicality and accessibility, we will handle the entirety of the expungement process to best position your application for success.
To complete the e-filing, you and your lawyer will be contacted to go over your entire file. Once you confirm that everything has been filled in correctly and there isn’t anything left in blank or mistaken information, your application will be sent to the government departments that need to review it. The court will schedule your hearing. The judge will grant or deny your expungement request. The prosecutor can deny or accept it as well.
Additionally, a recent NJ bill called the Clean Slate (Dec. 19, 2019) provides expungement for anyone who has had a clean record for 10 years. The waiting period begins when all the conditions of any past convictions have been completed in their entirety. According to the bill, there is no maximum number of indictable offenses or disorderly persons offenses that can be cleared. However, any specific offense that cannot be expunged will also disqualify a petition for this kind of expungement. Someone who received an expungement is eligible for a clean slate expungement if their petition is approved.
Limit on the Amount of Disorderly Persons Offenses for Expungement in NJ
Up to 5 disorderly persons charges can be expunged, also 1 indictable offense and 3 disorderly persons charges.
Waiting Time to Have an NJ Disorderly Persons Offense Expunged
For a clean slate expungement, 10 years from your last offense is what you will have to wait. An indictable conviction and up to 3 disorderly persons offenses will take 5 years, while the same offenses with compelling circumstances are 4 years. Five disorderly offenses will take 5 years, but with compelling circumstances, 3 years. Compelling circumstances are areas such as your behavior, community participation, job seeking, etc. to assure the court that you are a participating, positive contribution to society.
How Can a Lawyer Help Remove a Disorderly Persons Offense from Your Record in New Jersey?
The most challenging part of the expungement process is being eligible. When the type of conviction, number of convictions, and your sentence, fees, and probation have been completed. There are many statutes that provide the details, exceptions, and rules for your expungement. A lawyer is your best choice to handle your expungement.
The second challenge is completing all the forms carefully and accurately. E-forms are only as good and efficient as the person who fills them out. A lawyer can apply their knowledge of expungement processes to go over every detail of the forms you need for your expungement. You should paint a picture of the excellent citizen you are, as well as a family member, volunteer, employee, and/or person looking for work but getting rejected because of your record. You need the expungement to continue your growth and contributions to the community.
The final complication is managing the expungement hearing. If you qualify and your paperwork is up to snuff, the hearing should be a formality, a walk in the park without a necessary appearance in court. However, if the prosecutor objects or the court is against your expungement, your wise and experienced lawyer can persuade the court to grant your position.
Have You Been Arrested, Charged, or Convicted of a Disorderly Persons Offense? Contact Our Team of Criminal Lawyers Today
If you were arrested, charged with, or convicted of disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey, you might be in front of a serious issue. A conviction might have severe implications, including a lifelong criminal record and the possibility of jail time. Our recommendation for you is to talk with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at The Bronzino Law Firm about your case as soon as possible. The sooner we know about your case, the sooner we’ll start working on your defense or expungement.
Please do not hesitate to contact the skilled lawyers at our firm with offices in Brick and Sea Girt if you have any additional questions about defending against disorderly persons offenses, them showing up on background checks, or you require more assistance or clarification for a disorderly persons case in any way. We help clients with disorderly and petty disorderly persons charges and expungements of these convictions in Belmar, Toms River, Mantoloking, Lacey, Barnegat, Point Pleasant, Freehold, Eatontown and other areas in Monmouth and Ocean Counties and South Jersey.
Determine with a Skilled Team of Lawyers the Type of Court for Your Case in Ocean or Monmouth County, NJ
The judicial system of New Jersey, as is the case in all states across the country, is designed to ensure that the laws of the land are upheld justly. New Jersey’s court system upholds fairness, transparency, and impartiality to ensure that all are protected under the law. Moreover, the court system offers different scenarios and venues to handle various cases. In New Jersey, there are five different types of courts: the State Supreme Court, the Superior Court, the Appellate Court, tax courts, and municipal courts. Read on to learn more about the function of each court and the types of cases they handle.
If you would like to confer with an experienced attorney who regularly handles cases in New Jersey courts throughout Monmouth and Ocean County, contact our firm, Bronzino Law Firm, for immediate assistance. We are pleased to provide you with a free consultation.
Differentiating Between Types of Courts in New Jersey
The difference between the New Jersey courts in its judicial system is each court’s types of cases. There are a wide variety of municipal court cases, including motor vehicle offenses and disorderly persons offenses. Also handled by the municipal courts are minor disputes. Municipal court judges hear most minor crimes (called disorderly persons offenses in the state). In fact, according to the New Jersey Courts, around six million of the seven million cases in the state per year are heard at the municipal court level.
Tax courts are responsible for reviewing the decisions of the State Division of Taxation and each county’s division of taxation, which sets standards for income tax, business tax, and sales tax at the state level and property tax rates at the county level.
The New Jersey Superior Court has the important responsibility of adjudicating cases regarding family, civil, and criminal law matters. Family law includes divorce, which is overseen by the Superior Court: Family Part. Civil law regards lawsuits by which a plaintiff claims that they were injured by the actions or negligence of the defendant. As handled by the Superior Court system, criminal law pertains to serious indictable crimes, such as theft, drug crimes, or murder. As noted above, less serious criminal offenses called disorderly persons offenses are handled at the municipal court level.
What differentiates criminal court cases from other cases handled in the New Jersey court system is that these serious criminal cases are decided by a jury of 12 citizens, overseen by a judge. A plaintiff or defendant who is not content with the result of the Superior Court’s ruling can appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. In an Appellate-level panel review, a small panel sees no new evidence but, instead, hears the legal arguments of each side’s legal counsel and determines whether the decision was based on reasonability and impartiality.
Finally, the New Jersey Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. It is responsible for conducting a critical review of the Superior Court’s Appellate review and determination in a lower Superior Court case. The Supreme Court, like the Appellate Division, does not see any new evidence and instead reviews the feasibility of the Appellate panel’s determination.
Common Types of Cases Handled in Each NJ Court
Municipal courts handle minor crimes, called disorderly persons offenses, as well as motor vehicle offenses and traffic violations, and other minor disputes.
Tax courts review the decisions of the county-level and state-level divisions of taxation.
Superior Courts oversee cases regarding criminal (with the exception of minor crimes), civil, and family law.
The Appellate Division of the Superior Court reviews the decisions of the Superior Courts to determine whether justice was or was not upheld.
The New Jersey Supreme Court reviews the decisions of the Superior Courts’ Appellate Division to make a final determination that cannot be overturned.
Depending upon what type of infraction or crime was committed, the destination of the case will vary. For example, it can be presumed that a minor disorderly persons offense will be handled at the municipal court level, which is located in the town or borough where the offense took place. No new cases are heard at the Appellate or Supreme Court level.
Count on our Guidance for Your Family, Criminal, or Traffic Case in Southern New Jersey
The importance of a skilled and experienced lawyer in the appropriate area of New Jersey law cannot be understated. Having the support of a skilled and appropriate attorney for your issue or offense can mean the difference between justice being served and you getting the ground yanked from beneath you. Examples abound of a person deciding not to hire an experienced family lawyer for a divorce litigation in the Superior Court: Family Part and having a large portion of their assets and even custody of their children being stripped from them; or a person who does not hire a criminal defense lawyer after being arrested and finding themselves facing far harsher penalties than necessary, or even landing in jail.
Are you engaged in the New Jersey legal system? We at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, know the importance of quality legal counsel when it comes to the New Jersey courts. Our firm has supported clients across Ocean and Monmouth County for years, serving towns like Freehold, Sea Girt, Berkeley, Toms River, Manasquan, Lacey, Plumstead, Tinton Falls, Middletown, and Neptune in winning cases. Reach out to us at (732) 812-3102 to discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation.
Learn How to Deal with Criminal Interference in Child Custody Cases in NJ
Abduction of children by their non-custodial parent is happening with more frequency in the United States. In fact, authorities find that more than 90% of child abductions are the deed of one of the parents.
One reason for the increase is that people from different countries are marrying each other more often, and the divorce rate for them, and for everyone, is very high. And if one parent changes his or her mind about the custody agreement, they may decide on their own to change the situation. As a consequence, more than 200,000 parents kidnap their children every year in the U.S. Though we may feel sympathy for the offending parent, what they’ve done is actually a crime with serious consequences. The people most hurt are the children themselves.
The act of kidnapping by a parent is not merely a custody issue. It’s a crime under NJ law. And no, the courts do not agree with the old saying that possession is nine-tenths of the law.
In this article, we’ll define parental kidnapping in New Jersey, the options a parent has who is afraid a kidnapping might occur, the legal consequences for the person convicted of it, and the viable defenses a person might have for doing it.
Delineating Parental Kidnapping Under New Jersey Law
According to the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice – Title 2C, Section 2C:13-4, passed in 2013, kidnapping by a parent is defined as interference with custody and includes:
1) Taking a child (a minor, that is) with the intent to hide him or her and thereby deprive the child’s other parent of custody and parenting time with him or her;
2) In the gap of time between becoming aware of an upcoming action or order affecting custody but prior to the action or order becoming official, a parent takes or hides the child, either in New Jersey or in another state, with the intent of depriving the other parent of custody and parenting time or to evade the ruling of the courts of New Jersey;
3) After a temporary or final restraining order that spells out custody rights, one parent takes or hides a child in violation of the order.
Absconding with a child to a foreign country with no intent of return is actually not a state crime but a federal crime, punishable with up to three years in prison, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
How Can I Protect My Child from Being Kidnapped by their Other Parent?
For some families, a restraining order may be what’s needed to keep a parent who presents a real threat from getting in the vicinity of the child. Or a comprehensive custody order might need to be in place to limit or even to deny the other parent’s visitation rights.
In both of these scenarios, the burden of proof is on the parent seeking to restrain the other parent from seeing the child. You will need a convincing body of evidence to persuade a judge that there should be close restrictions on visitation, or no visitation at all, to protect the child. Judges are reluctant to keep a child from seeing both parents. If necessary, our lawyers can help you gather the right evidence.
Legal Ramifications of Kidnapping my Child in NJ
A person convicted of parental kidnapping can be charged with a third degree crime or a second degree crime in New Jersey, depending on the circumstances of the case. For a second degree crime, applicable to taking a child outside of the U.S. for more than 24 hours, a defendant may be forced to pay a fine of as much as $150,000 and to spend time in prison, specifically between 5 and 10 years. In cases involving criminal interference with custody that occurs in the United States, the charge is considered a third degree crime and thus, subject to a prison term ranging from 3 to 5 years. As an important aside, even a third degree crime for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4 does not benefit from the presumption of non-incarceration that other third degree offenses typically have attached.
Viable Defense Options if you are Accused of Kidnapping Your Child in New Jersey
You and your lawyer will need to prove clearly and convincingly that:
- You truly believed that the abduction was necessary to protect the child from abuse and danger. However, you will have no defense if you did not notify authorities within 24 hours, either the police of the town your child lived in, or the county prosecutor’s office in the county your child lived in, or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
- You reasonably believed that the other parent, or a state agency with authority, had consented to taking or detaining the minor child.
- The child is age 14 or older and was taken with his or her own volition, with no intent on the parent’s part to commit a criminal offense either with or against the child.
In a Parental Kidnapping Case, it’s Critical to Seek Legal Representation from a Firm Well-Versed in Both Family and Criminal Law in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
There are a number of factors that go into an indictment for parental kidnapping. The Bronzino Law Firm has in-depth knowledge of all the factors that have to be proven in order to prosecute someone charged with parental kidnapping successfully. To avert kidnapping from ever happening, talk to us about custody agreements and restraining orders. Get in contact with our firm, and we’ll discuss your options with you if you’re concerned about a kidnapping happening.
Our lawyers can also use our expansive defense experience to defend a parent accused of kidnapping. In the past, we have made such convincing cases for defendants that sentences have been reduced or dismissed. If you’ve been arrested for parental kidnapping, you will need an expert criminal defense lawyer to present your case in court. Don’t ever talk about the incident without a lawyer present. If and when the police question you, politely refuse to answer and ask for your attorney. Bronzino Law Firm will discuss your options with you if you’re in this predicament.
If you are involved in a parental kidnapping or interference with custody case in Manasquan, Sea Girt, Jackson, Belmar, Marlboro, Beach Haven, Tinton Falls, Toms River, and nearby towns in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, contact us at (732) 812-3102 to connect with one of our lawyers, who will listen to your case, explain the process, and how we can help you.
Key Information about Repercussions of Cyber Harassment and Cyberstalking in NJ Criminal and Family Courts
The internet is more popular than ever, especially with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram being used by millions of people. Unfortunately, this has also led to a lot of bullying online, also known as “cyber harassment.” Cyber harassment and cyberstalking can occur in any number of situations, but they often involve one party in a relationship targeting the other party. This is particularly true in contentious divorces, with one spouse accusing the other spouse of harassment, threats, etc. If you are going through a divorce and your spouse has accused you of cyber-harassment or cyberstalking, you need to take the accusation very seriously. You could face a multitude of consequences based on these allegations, including criminal charges, a restraining order, and negative impacts on your divorce case. To learn more about cyber harassment and cyberstalking in NJ, including how to respond to criminal charges and potential implications for your divorce, keep reading. To speak with one of our seasoned attorneys with experience handling all aspects of cyber harassment, criminal, domestic violence, and divorce cases in Monmouth and Ocean County, please call (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation.
Acts of “Cyber Harassment” and “Cyberstalking” in New Jersey
The truth is that terms like “cyber harassment” and “cyberstalking” are often open to interpretation because they are relatively new legal concepts, and they also exist in a modern world with a constantly evolving internet.
These are some of the acts that can give rise to a charge for cyber harassment in New Jersey:
Sending threatening emails. It should go without saying that threatening someone with violence or abuse is a very serious crime. When the threats are communicated online via email, it can result in criminal charges for cyber harassment.
Posting dangerous or threatening blog posts. The internet provides people with the opportunity to create websites that host blogs. Sometimes, these blogs are used for the wrong reasons: to post dangerous or threatening content about someone online. If the threatening words go too far, it can lead to criminal charges.
Impersonating someone online. Many websites allow users to create accounts or profiles without much in the way of a background check. This means that someone could potentially create a fictitious account and a fake profile pretending to be someone else. If you do this and then use the account to post inflammatory or negative things online while posing as someone else, it could constitute cyber harassment. (And if you impersonate a minor while doing so, the criminal charges may be elevated.)
Posting nude photos of someone online. Some of the most pernicious online bullying involves the posting of nude photographs or videos on Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere on the internet. The idea is often that the subject of the photos will be embarrassed if they are circulated all across the internet. When the naked images are of an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend, it can give rise to additional criminal charges for Revenge Porn.
Criminal Charges for Cyber Harassment in New Jersey
In New Jersey, cyber harassment and cyberstalking are very serious crimes that can result in the perpetrator being convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, fines, and long-term consequences like a criminal record. Regardless of what specific actions gave rise to your charges for cyber harassment, it is now imperative that you have a competent criminal defense lawyer on your side and helping you to avoid the most severe penalties. Moreover, your lawyer should have experience handling these types of cases and possess a strong understanding of what the law says about cyber harassment and cyberstalking, particularly since the law in this area is always being updated.
NJ Cyber Harassment Crime
Cyber harassment is addressed in the New Jersey Criminal Code by N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1. The statute stipulates that a person is guilty of cyber harassment if they use social media, specifically, or an electronic device, generally, to communicate online and to make a threat against another person, cause injury or harm to another person, or commit a crime against another person.
These are the broad strokes of the law, which goes into more detail about exactly what can give rise to a cyber-harassment charge. For example, if you attempt to harm someone with your online post, the prosecution will need to prove that you had the intent to cause emotional harm or to place the other person in fear of either physical or emotional harm. But keep in mind that this element of proof has been interpreted broadly by courts so that the prosecutor may only have to establish that a reasonable person would have been put in fear by the defendant’s online communication. This means that if you used the internet to publish menacing words or even lewd or obscene content, that might be enough to constitute a violation of the cyber-harassment statute.
Cyber Harassment Penalties under NJ Law
In most instances, cyber harassment charges are classified as fourth-degree indictable offenses. This means that cyber harassment is a felony, and a conviction carries a possible sentence of up to 18 months in state prison, as well as a fine of $10,000. In some circumstances, however, cyber harassment charges can be elevated to a third-degree indictable offense, which comes with possible penalties of 3-5 years in state prison, in addition to a fine of up to $15,000. The statute allows for the state to elevate the charges to a third-degree felony if the offender impersonated a minor and then cyber-harassed a minor victim.
The bottom line is that you do not want to be convicted of cyber harassment in New Jersey. Not only could a conviction or guilty plea on cyber harassment charges result in you being sentenced to time in prison, but it will also leave you with a criminal record. Imagine having to explain a harassment conviction on a job application in the future or having to tell friends and family members why you were convicted of stalking.
These long-term consequences, along with short-term consequences that could include prison, are a major reason why you should consider hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer to defend you against the charges. Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be possible to get the charges against you reduced or even dismissed. Alternatively, another option might be the entrance into a diversionary program such as Pretrial Intervention (PTI), which will allow you to avoid a conviction and ultimately get the charges removed from your record.
Accusations of Cyber Harassment and Domestic Violence
If accused of cyber harassment, you could be in violation of the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The domestic violence law protects certain individuals against harassing, annoying, or threatening behavior, including current or former spouses, current or former romantic partners, co-parents, and anyone who has previously been involved in a dating relationship. This means that not only could you face criminal charges under the NJ Criminal Code, but you may also be subject to a restraining order under the Domestic Violence Act. Moreover, if you subsequently violate that restraining order, you can be charged with an additional felony, otherwise known as an indictable offense.
Cyber Harassment & Cyberstalking During the NJ Divorce Process
Beyond the criminal and civil consequences of a cyber-harassment and/or cyberstalking allegation, the outcome of your divorce case could also be adversely affected. The judge in your case is likely to take the accusations into consideration, especially if there is a child involved. Your child custody rights could be limited or your visitation curtailed if you are ultimately convicted of cyber harassment. And if your ex-spouse files and ultimately obtains a final restraining order, this can prove a significant hindrance to your ability to interact with your children, as it may require special arrangements for transportation and transferring the children from one parent to another based on your child custody and parenting time schedule.
Contact a Seasoned Family Law & Criminal Lawyer for Your Cyber Harassment & Cyberstalking Defense in Freehold and Toms River NJ
You can see how one allegation of cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is by no means limited in its potential impacts on your life. Bearing this in mind, contact the experienced attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm to begin the process of protecting your best interests. We handle all aspects of criminal and family law cases, including criminal charges, divorces, restraining orders, and child custody issues.
Our skilled lawyers are committed to preserving your rights and advocating for you in every venue where so much is on the line for your future. The Bronzino Law Firm serves clients in Toms River, Marlboro, Colts Neck, Beach Haven, Rumson, Middletown, Jackson, and nearby areas, including all Ocean and Monmouth County towns. Call (732) 812-3102 or fill out our online contact form today for a free consultation.
Guide to Understanding How Controlling Behavior is a Type of Domestic Abuse
Coercive behavior can become a repetitive action in a relationship that needs to be stopped as soon as possible. It also qualifies as a criminal act of domestic violence in NJ.
In intimate and family relationships, coercive control is considered a type of domestic abuse and pattern of behavior by which a perpetrator will use acts of intimidation, manipulation, threats, isolation, humiliation, and demands (among other things) to destroy a person’s sense of independence and self-worth. Although this use of power to gain control is often seen as an early predictor of future physical violence, even when it doesn’t escalate to violence, coercive control leaves emotional scars and psychological trauma, which negatively impacts the victim’s mental health and may cause PTSD or depression. A 2015 survey on Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey showed that American men and women will experience some form of coercive control by an intimate partner, at similar rates, during their lifetime.
Since 2015, criminal coercion has been considered one of the 19 criminal offenses listed under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) of 1991. As an invisible chain that comes in many guises, it perpetuates an ongoing cycle of controlling abuse whereby the victim may feel dependent on their abuser and unable to escape the toxic relationship they’re in.
If you or you suspect someone you care about is being coerced or intimidated to do something in their relationship they don’t want to do, it is essential to act immediately in domestic abuse cases. Even if you are someone facing alleged criminal coercion charges in New Jersey as a result of a restraining order or other alleged crimes that put you on the wrong side of a domestic violence protective order, you need skilled criminal and domestic violence defense lawyers on your side to help protect your constitutional rights.
The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC understands that domestic violence is a serious crime that can significantly impact the victim and any children who witness or experience the abuse and have a long-lasting effect on those convicted of these crimes.
With offices conveniently located in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ, our legal team serves clients in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, as well as in cities like Allenwood, Bayville, Beachwood, Brielle, Howell, Manasquan, Pine Beach, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Spring Lake, and Toms River.
How to Recognize the 7 Signs of Criminal Coercion in NJ Domestic Violence Cases
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5, a person can be found guilty of criminal coercion or coercive control, if they purposefully and unlawfully restrict another’s freedom of action or force them to engage in an action, by means of threats to:
- inflict injury on their person or that of another person
- accuse another person of an offense
- expose a damaging secret that would subject a person, their business, or credit to contempt, hatred, ridicule, or scorn
- take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action
- bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective action, except that such a threat shall not be deemed coercive when the restriction compelled is demanded in the course of negotiation for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor acts
- testify or withhold information in a defense case or other legal matter
- perform any other act which would not in itself substantially benefit the person making the threat, but which is calculated to substantially harm another person’s relationships, health, safety, business, career, financial standing, or reputation.
Typical Examples of Coercive Control & Emotional Abuse in Domestic Violence Cases
Emotional or psychological abuse is just as damaging to survivors, even though they are often harder to detect. Typical examples of coercive control are:
- isolation from one’s family or support system
- monitoring one’s activities via electronic recoding devices, their social media usage, or phone calls
- denying autonomy or restricting one’s freedom (i.e., taking their phone, limiting or denying access to transport, travel to school or work, or changing passwords)
- constant criticism, name-calling, or verbal abuse designed to erode self-confidence
- exerting control over finances and limiting access to money
- parental alienation
- controlling aspects of one’s personal health or hygiene, possibly even restricting their access to medical care
- threatening children or pets
- regulating their sexual relationship
- blackmailing or threatening to expose intimate personal information or sexual details
- manipulation in relation to clothing, lifestyle choices, or where a person might be at a given time
If you are concerned about coercive control in your relationship or someone you care about, don’t be afraid to seek help in the form of someone you trust or by calling the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 572-SAFE (7233) to access information, services, crisis intervention, as well as referral and advocacy options.
What Role Does Criminal Coercion Play in Obtaining a NJ Restraining Order?
As a form of domestic violence and threatening behavior, criminal coercion is a “predicate act” or grounds for filing a temporary or final restraining order. Because this type of behavior is often what prevents someone from filing for an order of protection, escaping a dangerous environment, or fearing for their safety or that of others, it is essential to find experienced legal counsel who can guide one through the process of protecting themselves and their vulnerable loved ones.
To obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO), the person requesting protection must prove three elements:
- a predicate act of domestic violence occurred (one of the 19 PDVA criminal offenses),
- a prior history of domestic violence, and
- that the restraining order is essential in protecting their immediate safety and well-being.
A final restraining order (FRO) usually takes place a week or two after a TRO is granted to determine the truth or veracity of the initial complaint and if there is a continued need for protection. If granted, a FRO could impact and restrict where a person who is served lives, works, their child custody, and future job and educational opportunities, among others things.
If you are involved in a domestic dispute, defend your rights and contact our office today.
What Three Elements Are Necessary for a NJ Prosecutor to Prove Criminal Coercion
To prove a person is guilty of criminal coercion, a prosecutor must prove that the alleged person’s:
- conduct fell under one of the 7 prohibited threat categories or signs for criminal coercion
- the goal, intent, or purpose was to restrict the freedom of another or prevent them from acting or refraining from acting in a certain way
- purpose or goal was unlawful.
What Are The Penalties for Criminal Coercion Offenses in New Jersey?
Each case is unique, but depending on the severity of the underlying charges, a domestic violence offense may be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. Criminal Coercion is typically classified as a fourth-degree crime, and if found guilty of this charge, you may receive:
- up to 18 months in prison and
- a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
However, if the alleged person’s goal is criminal, the crime is considered third degree. Persons convicted of a third-degree criminal coercion charge face:
- 3-5 years of imprisonment and
- up to $15,000 in fines.
Convictions for second-degree and first-degree criminal coercion can result in 5-10 years and up to 20 years, respectively.
Penalties may also be monetary, the convicted person may be required to attend anger management classes, and there is also the possibility of probation. In addition and in accordance with federal law, both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence convictions can prohibit an individual from purchasing firearms.
Why It’s Crucial to Have An Experienced NJ Lawyer for Your Criminal Coercion Case
Regardless if you are the Plaintiff or the Defendant, the thought of appearing and possibly testifying in court can seem overwhelming, but knowing you have a knowledgeable attorney by your side advocating for your well-being and safety and that of any children in your relationship, can bring you peace of mind in and of itself.
Skilled domestic violence attorneys are an invaluable resource to have, as they can present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, guide you through the protection order documentation filing process, protect your constitutional rights, and leverage years of their own experience to reduce much of the burden you may go through in cases likes these.
Contact a Brick, New Jersey Criminal Coercion & Domestic Violence Attorney Today
In domestic violence cases, it is critical to take action as soon as possible. Despite the current pandemic and unprecedented backlog of cases, domestic abuse cases are prioritized in New Jersey and expedited through the court.
If you live in towns such as Brielle, Rumson, Morganville, Manasquan, and Toms River, and want to discuss your unique family situation with an empathetic and experienced domestic violence attorney, contact The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC today online or by calling (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free and confidential case assessment.
Domestic Violence Attorneys Dealing with Modern Tracking Devices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ
You might think of stalking as a person following you, however, modern technology brings a whole new twist to this issue.
Stalking is one of the acts listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 as part of the definition of domestic violence. It’s in the list along with homicide, assault, and harassment, and it can be perpetrated by an intimate partner, a former intimate partner, or a member of your household.
Stalking and Technology in Ocean County, New Jersey
You might think of stalking as a person following you, watching you, or bothering you with unwanted texts, emails, or social media posts. But with modern technology, it’s taken a high-tech twist that can be hard to protect against.
Lately, abusive intimate partners have been stalking—a means of exercising control by creating fear—using navigation technologies built into modern vehicles. They might also use devices that stick with magnets to your car.
Of late, there’s been an increase in stalking via technology. It has law enforcement and community officials concerned since stalking is traumatic to the victim. It has also been known to lead to violence.
Officials are considering turning the tables on stalkers by using technology to keep track of them. If a stalker is convicted, he or she can be required to wear a GPS monitoring device. The stalker’s victim also carries a device that gives a warning tone when the stalker is within a certain distance, and it sends a text to the victim’s cellphone. It can also notify law enforcement officials to come to the location.
There are concerns about the civil liberties of stalkers being violated by having to wear a device like this. So officials counter that they will only require it on people who, upon evaluation, are deemed likely to be the most dangerous. Signs that they will be dangerous include:
- If they’ve threatened violence before
- If they have access to weapons
- The time invested in the relationship. The longer the relationship has been going on, the less likely the abuser is to let go.
Because of civil liberties concerns, NJ officials want only the most potentially dangerous people to be monitored.
If the stalker turns up at weird places—like places you’ve never been before, and he or she has no experiential knowledge of you going there—and at suspicious times—when you’re more likely to be alone—you may have a tracking device surreptitiously placed on your car. We advise you to take your car to a repair shop and have a mechanic look it over carefully. If your car has a built-in navigation system that your intimate partner had a role in setting up, you may have to get a different car for safety’s sake.
As the technologies for tracking and surveillance become ever-more advanced and commonplace, stalking is becoming more difficult to fight. Perpetrators are desperate people and will use any tool they can get their hands on to gain power over and abuse their victims.
And many forms of abuse require no advanced technologies or knowledge of how to use them. Abusers can use everyday devices like cellphones too. Even then, intimate partner abuse is hard to fight.
Steps are being taken: domestic violence organizations are approaching large communications and technology companies to ask them to consider how their product might be misused and to reduce that risk in the design phase.
A great number of people are suffering in New Jersey alone today because of stalking and the whole range of acts of domestic violence.
If you are the victim or someone you love is the victim, please speak up and tell law enforcement about the crime or crimes. New Jersey law is written to protect victims of domestic violence. It gives them the means to file criminal charges and seek monetary compensation to pay for injuries.
You also need to speak with a domestic violence attorney in New Jersey. The best way to protect loved ones, and yourself, is to act without delay another moment.
Consult a Berkeley NJ Domestic Violence Attorney for an Initial Consultation Today
Call Bronzino Law and we will give you effective legal counsel to fight domestic violence and gain protection from future abusive actions on the part of the household member or the past or present intimate partner.
We are experienced with domestic violence law in all its facets, and we’ll work to make sure you get the legal support that’s necessary to fight domestic violence. We serve clients in Toms River, Jackson, Brick, Manchester, Freehold, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, and places around our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ.
Call Bronzino Law Firm today at (732) 812-3102 for a free initial consultation to explore your options. We will work to protect you, guide you, and help you put this abusive situation in your rearview mirror.
How to Manage Your Contempt Charges with the Help of an Experienced Criminal Law Attorney
Being charged with contempt of court can significantly impact your life and result in punishments as severe as jail time, a fine, or even a felony conviction on your permanent record.
Although a person can be charged with contempt for inappropriate behavior which delays or disrupts court proceedings, very often a person can be charged with contempt as the result of violating a temporary restraining order (TRO) or final restraining order in simple assault or domestic violence cases. They can also be found in contempt for violating a family law court order related to child support or in problematic divorce cases where equal distribution of assets, property division, or alimony/spousal support agreement are an issue. In other cases, contempt charges may be brought for failing to appear in court or respond to a court summons.
If you or someone you know has been charged with contempt of court in New Jersey, or if you or a loved one is seeking to enforce a court-mandated order against a co-parent for child support, child custody agreement, or failure to honor a marital agreement, it’s best to retain experienced legal representation. No matter how minor the violation may seem, we can help you protect your rights. Our defense attorneys approach agreement resolution with a collaborative and amicable mindset, but will not hesitate to aggressively defend you in court.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience protecting our clients’ rights and finding realistic and effective solutions for any legal matter in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities, including Brick, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Howell, Wall, Point Pleasant, Toms River and all of Southern New Jersey.
What Constitutes Contempt of Court in New Jersey?
At its foundation, court contempt of court occurs when someone deliberately violates court order, does something to intentionally prevent a court order from being exercised, acts inappropriately in court, or disrespects the judge while court is in session, or behaves in a disrespectful manner while court is in session.
Even if the contempt violations were unintentional or committed in good faith, and may seem as minor as making contact via text message, a social media post, email, or a phone call, the state may move forward with charging that person with a disorderly persons offense.
What is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Contempt in New Jersey?
Although there are numerous ways to be found in contempt of court, it is generally differentiated between direct and indirect criminal contempt and civil contempt.
Direct contempt is considered inappropriate behavior (i.e., offensive language or not following court rules or decorum) that occurs in front of the judge, which is dealt with on the spot. Indirect contempt occurs outside the presence of a judge and may involve a lawyer or juror willfully violating a judicial order, such as a “gag order” to not discuss the case or court proceedings outside of court. Proving this type of offense requires the court to rely on third-party testimony.
Civil contempt of court charges, on the other hand, are often brought after the plaintiff files a suit against a defendant for financial damages or injunctive relief from the court. Typically examples are failure to obey a restraining order, pay child support, follow parental visitation orders, or a divorce decree.
Another distinction between civil and criminal contempt of court charges is the constitutional safeguards a person charged with criminal contempt has. Whereas criminal contempt is subjective and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, civil contempt must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.
What are the Penalties for Contempt in New Jersey?
The purpose of imposing criminal contempt charges is to punish disobedience and to preserve the court’s authority. Punishment for civil contempt charges are remedial and are designed to benefit the complainant. New Jersey family courts exercise a great deal of discretion when imposing penalties, and more often than not, the person found in contempt is ordered to pay the other’s attorney’s fees.
Depending on the situation, violating a court order can be classified as a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree criminal offense, especially if one commits another crime while violating the order. Although the threat of jail is often enough to gain compliance with a court order, the court may impose community service, wage garnishment, fines, drug or alcohol treatment, or loss of driving privileges.
Whether it’s yourself or someone you know, violating a restraining order in New Jersey can be classified as a fourth-degree criminal offense or a disorderly persons offense.
A disorderly persons offense in New Jersey is punishable by:
- Fine: up to $1000
- Incarceration: 6 months in the county jail
- Criminal Record: a conviction will appear on your criminal record
A fourth-degree felony in New Jersey is punishable by:
- Fine:up to $10,000
- Incarceration: up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison
- Probation: an extensive probationary period
- Criminal Record: a felony conviction appearing on your criminal record
In family law matters, when one party knowingly refuses or fails to follow a court order it can result in additional stress, confusion, and possibly fear for one’s safety and wellbeing. If the alleged contempt of court violation is significant, you should seek to remedy this immediately.
If you have concerns or questions about a possible contempt of court case, contact an experienced Ocean County family law attorney for advice.
Contact a Brick, NJ Attorney About Your Contempt of Court Case Today
Punishment for a contempt offense can be significant. So whether you failed to appear in court, behaved inappropriately while in court, or unknowingly violated a court order, you will need a skilled Brick, NJ defense attorney to fight your charges.
If you have been charged with contempt in New Jersey or seek to enforce an existing court order, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, so that you can explore all of your available options. Regardless of how small you think the violation may be, failure to take aggressive action can direly impact your life for years to come.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience helping clients in local Ocean County and Monmouth County communities including Seaside Heights, Fort Dix, Keansburg, Howell, Wall, Beachwood, Tinton Falls, and other Jersey Shore communities. Our firm is built on the foundation of strong attorney-client relationships which larger firms simply cannot match.
Our team of attorneys is ready to help you through child abuse procedures in Brick
Children who present with certain signs and characteristics often raise questions and concerns by adults, wondering if they may be abused or neglected.
Child abuse and neglect are unpleasant situations to think about. Our instinct is to avoid any involvement for fear of retribution by the offending party. In 2017, 78,322 calls, were made according to Christine Beyer, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families. That is close to 8,000 calls more than were received in 2015. Most referrals are made by educators, doctors, law enforcement, and a large portion are made by private citizens. Not every call results in a case of abuse, but attention is paid by the authorities and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency to offer state services which can include counseling, food pantries, parenting classes, and state-subsidized income.
What Are Some Indications of Abuse?
Every child is different, and there is no exact way to determine if they have been abused. There are, however, a series of behavioral clues which may indicate abuse. There is a lot of crossover between the kinds of abuse and behaviors. Some children are abused in multiple ways by the same person.
Some evidence of possible physical/sexual abuse includes bruises, burn marks, broken bones, missing patches of hair, and cuts. Child labor falls under this category, as does purposefully withholding the child from normal social interaction. If a child is aggressive, emotional, doesn’t trust adults, or is afraid of them, they could be victims of physical abuse. Tip-offs for sexual abuse include difficulty walking or sitting, discomfort in the genital area, pregnancy, or STDs, withdrawn or infantile behavior as well as sexual behavior above their actual age, and a poor relationship with peers. Emotional abuse is much more difficult to identify, but some red flags include erratic behavior, violence, lack of appetite, or overeating. Also, tantrums, fear of adults, obsessive tendencies, attention-seeking, or extreme anxiety.
What Are Some Indications of Neglect?
Children who are not attending school regularly or who come without the necessary supplies to conduct their lessons may be considered neglected. More obvious signs are children whose clothes are dirty or torn or other signs of poor hygiene. Constant hunger, thirst, or fatigue can also indicate neglect—failure to regularly seek regular medical and dental treatment or specific treatments for chronic illnesses.
What Is Considered Abandonment?
Obviously, the clearest example of abandonment is when a minor is left alone; however, failing to protect and safeguard the child from risks and failing to keep control and custody of the child, be that with family or strangers.
How Is Cruelty Different?
Cruelty includes severe corporal punishment, inflicting physical or emotional pain, omission by allowing a child to be mentally or physically harmed, or exposing a child to unnecessary hardship, fatigue, or mental or physical strains.
If you have reasonable cause to believe that a child is being mistreated, contact the Division of Child Protection & Permanency (formerly called the Division of Youth & Family Services) Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry): 1-877-NJ ABUSE – 1-877-652-2873 If it is an emergency, always call 911.
What Information Should I Include In The Call?
State Central Registry call agents are trained caseworkers who know how to respond to child abuse/neglect reports. You should include the following information:
o Who: The names of the abuser and the abused, as well as the child’s parents/custodial guardians
o What: The kind and how often the suspected abuse/neglect, physical or emotional indications of the abuse have occurred.
o When did the purported misdeed/neglect happen, and when were you made aware of it?
o Where: The location of the occurrence, the kid’s current location, and if the accused offender has access to the kid.
o How: The urgency of the need for assistance and whether the child is in imminent danger.
Am I civilly or criminally liable for reporting abuse?
Anyone who discloses child abuse or neglect is not subject to criminal or civil responsibility due to their actions. Also, if the caller loses their job due to reporting the abuse, legal procedures can be followed to return them to work or receive payment for lost wages. Calls can be placed to the hotline anonymously also.
Is it against the law to fail to report suspected abuse/neglect?
Someone who does not report suspected abuse or neglect can be fined $1,000 and sentenced to spend six months in jail. Any public education worker, hospital worker, psychologist, or others considered members of the health community who fail to report abuse can be terminated.
What happens after I make the call?
When a child is identified as at-risk or abused, an investigator from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency will investigate within 24 hours of receiving the report.
Contact a Child Abuse Lawyer serving Jersey Shore Communities Today
If you have been accused of child abuse or are facing child welfare allegations, you must seek legal representation as soon as possible. At the Bronzino Law Firm, our team is equipped to take care of your case in a manner that is professional and experienced.
You are not alone. Call (732) 812-3102 today for a confidential consultation about your case. We are on your side.
Final Order of Protection Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Advising our Family Law clients in Brick, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Spring Lake, Jackson, and Freehold
New Jersey’s state protects domestic violence victims and certain other crime victims with protective orders, commonly known as restraining orders. New Jersey law permits restraining orders as part of the 1982 law known as the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. A restraining order is a court-ordered document that can prohibit one person from contacting or coming within a certain distance of someone else for a set period. A final restraining order imposed by a judge can be vacated or revoked but requires a special process. Otherwise, it could remain in effect for the rest of your life. Violation of a restraining order can be a criminal offense, even when the protected party wants to lift the order and consents to contact. Even in these cases, you could be charged with a criminal offense. A New Jersey restraining order attorney can help construct and submit your appeal.
What Is the Purpose of a Restraining Order?
In New Jersey, the courts use restraining orders to protect domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims from their abusers or assailants. They can also use restraining orders to prevent contact between the parties, provide spousal or child support, and order temporary child custody. Restraining orders are a necessary protection for victims of violence and sexual assault.
But restraining orders can also have severe consequences for the defendant. If a court orders a final restraining order (FRO), the defendant will be fined $500, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a domestic violence registry. New Jersey law also prohibits the defendant from owning or possessing firearms. In some cases, police can remove the defendant from their home. The defendant may lose custody of their children, be ordered to pay spousal and child support, and continue paying a mortgage or rent. If you face a hearing for a restraining order, it’s essential to contact an experienced New Jersey criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Why Should I Appeal a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders can have strict consequences in New Jersey. The court may remove you from the home you share with the plaintiff and prevent you from contacting the plaintiff or any children you share. You could lose custody of your children, and the court could order you to pay spousal and child support. The court could also order you to continue paying the rent or mortgage in a home you do not occupy. Additionally, the court will fine you $500 and order you to be fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a domestic violence registry.
If you violate a restraining order, it is a criminal offense and considered criminal contempt of a court order. Any allegation of violating a restraining order mandates an arrest. The violation can be inadvertent or be as small as a text or email to the victim. A second violation will result in a mandatory 30 days in jail. If you face a restraining order hearing, it’s essential to contact an experienced New Jersey criminal attorney as soon as possible.
What Is the Process For an Appeal?
You cannot appeal a temporary restraining order (TRO). A judge typically enters a TRO without notice to the defendant, and the order is only good until the hearing for the final restraining order (FRO). The hearing for the FRO is typically within ten days of entry of the TRO. At the hearing for the FRO, both parties will have the opportunity to tell their story and present evidence and witnesses to the court.
Once a judge has issued a final restraining order against you, you have a limited time in which to file your appeal. That time to file your appeal is limited to 45 days after its imposition. In the appeal, you will be required to allege that errors made during the trial warrant a reversal of the final restraining order’s imposition.
The error must relate to the facts, evidence, or law to be a valid basis for your appeal. Grounds for reversal may include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- The judge incorrectly interpreted or applied the law: If the judge misapplied or incorrectly interpreted New Jersey law, that mistake can be grounds for a successful appeal. Judges are required to do their job correctly, and when they do not, you should not be punished for it.
- The judge misinterpreted the facts: Judges are also expected to correctly analyze and apply the facts of the case to New Jersey law. Judges commonly misremember testimony or flat-out get things wrong. When they do, it could be the basis for a successful appeal of your final restraining order.
- The judge misapplied the rules of evidence: Specific rules are in force regarding what evidence the court may consider when deciding on the final restraining order. When the court gets it wrong, the final restraining order may not be valid.
- The judge’s findings were not complete: The opinion the judge sets forth must state in detail the ground for the restraining order, including the prior history of domestic violence, the predicate act, and that a restraining order was necessary to protect the well-being and safety of the plaintiff. Failure to state any or all of these is grounds for the reversal of the final restraining order.
If you are considering filing for divorce or know of someone, all your rights must be protected. You need someone in your corner to support you doing this difficult time.
Contact a Domestic Violence Lawyer Today to Protect Your Rights
At Bronzino Law Firm, we successfully represent clients in Brick, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Spring Lake, Jackson, and Freehold. Whether you have yet to decide your next steps fully or are ready to move forward immediately, our knowledgeable team of attorneys is only a phone call away.
Contact our Brick office by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.
Domestic Violence and COVID-19 Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
At the height of the first surge of Covid-19 in April, the New York Times reported that the rate of domestic violence around the world was rising, triggered by economic stress and increased isolation.
In a pandemic, the facets of domestic abuse are the same as at any other time: the perpetrator enforces isolation from family and friends, practices constant surveillance, dictates increasingly impossible standards of acceptable behavior, and limits access to necessities like food and clothing.
Lockdowns during the pandemic feed into these controlling behaviors because surveillance and control are easier to do in close quarters. In the pandemic, victims of domestic violence may have increasingly found that access to help in the form of friends and family, or the police and the courts, was reduced or completely cut off.
Two investigators were concerned that the same thing might be happening in New Jersey. They researched how such factors as home confinement and court closures have impacted domestic violence rates in this state.
They found that victims have faced intensified difficulties over the past several months. When they studied arrest data from the Newark Department of Public Safety and restraining data provided by the New Jersey Superior Court, they discovered that:
- Calls to police about domestic violence dropped statewide right after the lockdown began. Experts believe the sudden drop in police calls was a key sign that unreported domestic violence was rising. Victims may not have had enough privacy to call for help, did not know how to access help because of court closures, or had difficulty leaving home or knowing whether shelters were open.
- Arrests began to increase in late March of this year through July 2020. The Newark Department of Public Safety, in its own analysis, reported 188 domestic violence incidents from the end of March through April, an 18% increase over the same period in 2019.
- There was a relatively low number of applications statewide for temporary restraining orders (TROs) in March and April. At that time, most TROs were issued by the police, and very few were issued by the courts because courts were closed. Victims may not have known where to go or were reluctant or unable to go to their local police station. As courts reopened, the number of TRO requests rapidly increased. Compared to pre-March levels, total TRO requests rose sharply from late July to mid-September.
These findings are a serious wake-up call.
Domestic Violence Usually Gets Worse
With the pandemic rising and continuing into the winter, families face heightened stress in possible renewed lockdown measures.
There is help available. You can get a restraining order even when courts are closed. Victims also need to know that shelters and agencies are open, even if they’re working within the constraints of social distancing.
Call us today with your Domestic Violence related issues in NJ
Do you, or someone you love and care about, need help with domestic violence but aren’t sure how to access help?
This link will provide you with the NJ Domestic Violence Hotline
You can also talk with one of our attorneys, by video conference or phone call, to learn about the legal options you have that will help you be safe. These include filing for a TRO, filing for child support or spousal support for the abused partner, emergency custody of children, and how to file for divorce.