Arrested and Charged with Choking in Mercer County
As of July 2021, anyone accused of choking another during a domestic dispute in New Jersey will now be charged with a second degree indictable offense (felony). With the passing of this new legislation regarding strangulation allegations, New Jersey has once again shown its desire to protect those who fall victim of domestic violence. It is well known by now that the legislature has been extremely proactive in combating crimes of domestic violence and this is yet again another sign that they are willing to do whatever it takes to protect would be victims. In fact, law enforcement throughout the State, including in Mercer County has undergo extensive training regarding domestic violence investigations. By there very nature, these types of crimes tend to not only be underreported but most investigation tend to be stonewalled by alleged victims. Therefore, New Jersey has put a big emphasis on spotting signs of choking. The elevation in the severity of the penalties one faces if convicted of domestic violence choking is just one of the proactive steps that New Jersey has taken over the years. Another major example was New Jersey’s Bail Reform Act that was enacted in 2017. The Bail Reform Act almost guarantees that those charged with a crime of domestic violence will be required to spend at least 24-48 hours in the County Jail. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime of domestic violence in Mercer County, the Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help. Our attorneys have a significant amount of experience defending domestic violence allegations in Mercer County. We defend not only domestic violence strangulation charges but terroristic threats, harassment, stalking, aggravated assault and cyber-harassment charges as well. We serve all of Mercer County, including Hightstown, West Windsor, Hamilton, Trenton, Princeton, Hopewell, Ewing and East Windsor. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation today, please contact our Hamilton office at 609-789-0779.
Domestic Violence Choking Charges are Classified as a Second Degree Felony in New Jersey
In just under five years domestic violence strangulation allegations went from a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) to a second degree indictable offense in New Jersey. In 2017, the legislature choose to increase domestic violence choking cases from a misdemeanor to a third degree felony. But then in 2021, the legislature choose to further increase strangulation cases from a third degree felony to a second degree. This is a significant increase in the severity of the charges. If the Defendant is a first time offender, they would obtain a presumption against incarceration on a third degree felony conviction. However, regardless of whether the Defendant is a first time offender, there is a presumption of incarceration that applies for a second degree felony conviction. In addition, this offense falls under the No Early Release Act (NERA), which requires the Defendant to serve at least 85% of their sentence before they can become eligible for parole. Just to put this into context, in 2016, a conviction for a domestic violence choking would have resulted in a potential 6 month jail sentence for a Defendant. It now results in a five to ten year State Prison sentence. If the legislature choose to impose such a drastic increase in the severity of the potential penalties over the last five years, one can imagine how aggressively these types of cases tend to be prosecuted.
What to Know about Domestic Violence Strangulation Charges in New Jersey
New Jersey’s “assault” statute is one of the more complex criminal statutes in the entire criminal code. There are various different subsections which seek to prosecute different types of conduct. N.J.S.A. 2C:1(b)(13) is the specific subsections that covers domestic violence strangulation allegations. In pertinent part, it states:
- Knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly obstructs the breathing or blood circulation of a person who, with respect to the actor, meets the definition of a victim of domestic violence, as defined in subsection d. of section 3 of, by applying pressure on the throat or neck or blocking the nose or mouth of such person, thereby causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
When it comes to defending these types of allegations it is going to be important to look to exploit not only the conduct and whether it qualifies as “pressure on the throat or neck or blocking the nose or mouth of such person” but also on the mental state of the Defendant and whether the conduct satisfies the “reckless” mens rea standard. Furthermore, it will also be important to exploit whether the Defendant was acting in self-defense. In other words, was the conduct was necessary to protect themselves.
What is the Bail for a Domestic Violence Choking Charge in Mercer County?
Under New Jersey’s Bail Reform Act, most domestic violence charges will be issued on a Complaint-Warrant. That means that the Defendant will need to be taken from the local police station after processing to the Mercer County Jail so that Pretrial Services can conduct their risk assessment. This risk assessment will then be used by the Mercer County Prosecutors Office to determine whether or not they will agree to release the Defendant on bail at their Central Judicial Processing Hearing. If they Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office declines to agree to release the Defendant they must file for a formal detention hearing. If this occurs, a formal detention (bail) hearing must be conducted. At this hearing the Judge will hear arguments from both sides and will be called upon to make a determination of whether to release the Defendant on bail or detain them without bail, pending trial. For more information on bail hearings in Mercer County, please click the link.
Strangulation Case Can Result in a Temporary Restraining Order in Mercer County
A domestic violence strangulation allegation in New Jersey can result in the victim securing a temporary restraining order against the Defendant. If a temporary restraining order is granted, this will be in addition to any criminal charges that result from the incident. That means that the Defendant will be called upon to defend themselves in not only criminal court but also in family court for the restraining order despite the fact that both cases involve the same set of facts. For more information on how to defend a temporary restraining in Mercer County, please click the link. If this is to occur, it is crucial that you speak to a domestic violence defense attorney immediately, as the testimony given during the final restraining order hearing could be used against the Defendant in a criminal trial.
Speak to a Domestic Violence Choking Defense Attorney in Hamilton Today – 609-789-0779
The domestic violence lawyers at Keith Oliver Criminal Law fully comprehend what is on the line when a Defendant is accused of a crime of domestic violence. As such, our lawyers are dedicated to aggressively defending these types of allegations in order to protect not only our clients freedom but help restore their reputation. If you have been arrested for strangulation, terroristic threats, stalking, cyber-harassment or any other offense for that matter in Mercer County, we can help. To speak to one of our lawyers today, please contact us at 609-789-0779 or you can try contacting us online.