Being accused of violent acts against your spouse, significant other, or members of your family is a serious matter in New Jersey. What starts as a private argument or simple misunderstanding can spiral out of control when police get involved. If you’ve been arrested, you need to speak with a trusted Somerset County domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our defense attorneys have many years of experience fighting for the rights of those who’ve been accused of domestic violence. We can work with you to build a strong defense and argue for the charges against you to be reduced or dropped. Contact us today for a free review of your case. You’ll feel better knowing you have a skilled attorney on your side.
How Our Somerset County Domestic Violence Attorneys Can Help You After an Arrest
Given the stiff penalties you face if you’re convicted of domestic violence in New Jersey, it’s crucial to get help from a knowledgeable defense lawyer. At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our seasoned Somerset County domestic violence attorneys can help by:
- Going over the charges against you and the potential penalties you’re facing – It’s important to understand exactly what you’ve been accused of if you’re to mount an effective defense in a domestic violence case. Our criminal defense attorneys will make sure you understand what’s happening and what your options are. We empower our clients to feel confident in their defense.
- Examining the evidence against you – Domestic violence cases often turn on what evidence police and the authorities have against you. In many cases, it comes down to “he said, she said.” Our lawyers will comb through the prosecution’s case and gather our own evidence to dispute the charges against you.
- Arguing for certain evidence to be thrown out – Police and other members of the justice system have to follow certain rules when collecting evidence. Our Somerset County defense lawyers will uncover whether any evidence against you was obtained unlawfully or proper procedures were not followed. This can have a significant impact on your case.
- Being an intermediary between you and the authorities – One of the main tools police and prosecutors use in criminal cases is interrogation. They know that with enough psychological pressure and intimidation, they can force many defendants to admit guilt or make a deal. Our defense lawyers can help you protect your rights, avoid saying things to hurt your case, and fight back against unfair pressure.
- Reducing the potential penalties you may face by working out a plea agreement – If your best option is to agree to a plea bargain, a defense lawyer from our firm can help you negotiate the best possible terms. In cases where a plea is in our clients’ best interests, we focus on minimizing the penalties.
- Providing a vigorous defense at trial – If you’ve been accused of domestic violence and your case goes to trial, you absolutely need a defense attorney who has tried cases like yours before. Our Somerset County criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience trying cases to verdict and obtaining favorable outcomes for our clients.
Understanding New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence is broadly defined as a pattern of emotional, physical, verbal, or sexual abuse against a spouse (current or divorced), significant other, other family member, or anyone else who lives with you in your home, according to the New Jersey State Police. Abuse includes things like acts of violence, threats, intimidation, isolation from others, and seizing control of someone’s finances.
When Is an Arrest Mandatory in New Jersey Domestic Violence Cases?
New Jersey law requires police to arrest an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence when:
- They have probable cause to believe an act of domestic violence has occurred, AND
- The alleged victim has signs of being injured by an act of domestic violence.
Even if a victim of domestic violence says they aren’t hurt, or that their injuries weren’t caused by someone in their home, police are still required to make an arrest if the victim shows external or internal signs of an injury. These signs include things like bruises, scars, cuts, the victim’s demeanor, and so on. In certain cases, police can arrest multiple people if they all show signs of violence, and it can’t be determined who was the aggressor.
New Jersey police are also required to make an arrest in domestic violence cases if any of the following conditions are met:
- There is probable cause to believe an offender has violated a temporary restraining order.
- The alleged offender has a warrant out for their arrest.
- There is probable cause to believe an offender used a weapon to inflict an act of domestic violence.
When multiple parties in the same household are injured, and it’s difficult to determine whether an act of domestic violence has occurred, police are supposed to use the following factors to see if an arrest needs to be made:
- The relative severity of each party’s injuries
- Any prior history of domestic violence between the parties, if applicable
- Each party’s fear of additional physical harm
- If any party threatened force on the other
- Whether one of the parties may have been acting in self-defense
- Any other “relevant factors”
Bear in mind that while there are many situations that may require police to make an arrest if you’ve been accused of domestic violence, being arrested does not automatically mean you will be found guilty. Talk to a New Jersey domestic violence defense attorney right away if you’ve been arrested.
What Are Some of the Common Charges Related to Domestic Violence?
Here are a few of the common charges our Somerset County criminal defense attorneys see in domestic violence cases:
- Domestic assault – Assault is when someone attempts to injure a person using fear or intimidation or causes an injury to someone else through negligence. Keep in mind that making threats is enough to be considered assault in certain circumstances.
- Endangering the welfare of a child – Putting a child in danger or directly injuring them can be considered an act of domestic violence, and a conviction often carries heavy penalties.
- Stalking – Following someone around when they don’t want you to can be considered domestic violence if the person you are following is someone who lives in your home or with whom you have had a romantic relationship.
- False imprisonment – False imprisonment is the crime of holding someone in their own home and preventing them from leaving. This is a common charge in domestic violence cases.
- Kidnapping – While kidnapping and false imprisonment are similar crimes, kidnapping generally involves taking someone out of their home to a new location. If you do this to someone in your household, you can be charged with domestic violence.
- Criminal restraint – Holding someone against their will in a way that could lead to bodily harm is an act of domestic violence when committed against a member of your household.
- Sexual assault – Sexually assaulting a spouse or dating partner is a serious crime and can lead to significant penalties in a domestic violence case.
- Criminal sexual contact – Unwanted sexual touching or other contact that does not rise to the level of sexual assault can be considered an act of domestic violence.
- Lewdness – Lewd comments and acts can be considered domestic violence if they happen repeatedly and are unwelcome to the victim.
- Criminal trespass – Entering someone’s home without permission can be an act of domestic violence. Trespassing is different from burglary in that the victim has to be present in the home when the act occurred.
- Burglary – Breaking into the home of a spouse or another member of your household when they’re not present can be an act of domestic violence if you are unwelcome or have been barred from the premises.
- Harassment – Verbal threats and other types of harassment are common forms of domestic violence.
- Restraining orders – Violating a restraining order is a major offense and can lead to additional penalties in a domestic violence case.
Can Domestic Violence Charges be Dropped?
There are certain crimes under New Jersey law in which a victim can elect to have the charges against an alleged offender dropped. However, this is not the case when it comes to alleged acts of domestic violence.
If you have been accused of domestic violence and have been arrested, only the authorities can drop the charges against you. This provision is in place to protect victims of domestic violence from being intimidated into letting an alleged abuser back into their home. While this makes sense for victims, it means that having your charges dropped can be a challenge. But it’s not impossible.
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, we have a long track record of getting domestic violence charges dropped in Somerset County. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case in a free consultation.
What Are Some of the Common Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges?
Some common defense strategies used in domestic violence cases include:
- Someone else committed the violent acts in question.
- The victim suffered their injuries accidentally.
- The defendant was acting in self-defense.
- The defendant was responding to their partner’s actions or behavior.
Our domestic violence attorneys in Somerset County can identify all the potential defenses in your case and formulate a strategy to fight for you.
Understanding New Jersey Domestic Violence Penalties
Depending on the specific act you’ve been accused of, the potential penalties for domestic violence in New Jersey could include:
- Losing custody of your children
- Having a restraining order filed against you
- Having your weapons seized
- Being barred from obtaining weapons in the future
- Having to attend counseling
What Happens After Being Arrested for a Domestic Violence Charge in Somerset County, N.J.?
Arguments between loved ones are going to happen. But when they escalate to the point that the police need to intervene, more likely than not, somebody is going to get arrested. To make matters worse, an individual charged with an “act of domestic violence” will most likely be detained in the Somerset County jail for at least 48 hours so that pre-trial services can do a risk assessment.
Furthermore, if the prosecution sees fit, they can then file for a detention hearing and seek to keep the individual detained, pre-trial, without bail. This decision will be made at the individual’s central judicial processing hearing.
Now more than ever, it is crucial that you speak to an experienced Somerset County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you’ve been accused of domestic violence. Detention hearings in New Jersey can and should always be contested.
With all that being said, this is just the beginning. Remember, securing bail is just the initial step in every criminal case. If domestic violence criminal charges are filed, the next step would be to determine what court will have jurisdiction over the case. All indictable domestic violence offenses, which is New Jersey’s version of a felony, will be transferred from the local Municipal Court to the Superior Court of the county where it happened. Conversely, all disorderly persons domestic violence offenses will be litigated in the Municipal Court in the municipality where the incident happened.
Once it’s determined which court has jurisdiction, the next step is litigating the actual case, whether that be via motion practice, plea negotiations, or trial. It is important to remember that if an individual is served with a temporary restraining order, that case will be in addition to the criminal charges, despite the fact that they typically derive from the same set of facts. For more information on detention hearings in Somerset County, please contact our law office today.
Our New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyers Are Here to Fight for You
Domestic violence cases are extremely serious and quite complicated. You need a skilled defense attorney on your side. Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law today to speak to a seasoned New Jersey domestic violence lawyer about your defense.