Contact Our Morristown Office To Speak To A Former County Prosecutor Who Is Highly Skilled In Defending Restraining Orders and Domestic Violence Criminal Charges
Domestic violence charges, perhaps more than any other offenses in the New Jersey criminal code, have the potential to turn your life upside down. Police who answer a domestic violence call in Morris County or elsewhere in New Jersey must arrest the suspect if the accuser shows any sign of injury.
Those accused of domestic violence may face charges such as assault, harassment, kidnapping, terroristic threat, stalking as well as a restraining order that limits who they can communicate with and when they can see their children. Anyone accused of physical, verbal and/or mental abuse by a wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, or any family or household member should take these allegations seriously. An experienced attorney can help you understand what to do when you are charged with domestic violence.
The criminal defense team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall includes former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders who have worked in municipal and county courts across the state. Our Morris County domestic violence attorneys are tenacious advocates who know how to dismantle domestic violence charges.
We have represented defendants in final restraining order hearings in Morris County, New Jersey, for over 15 years. We have strong relationships with prosecutors in municipal and county courts.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a domestic violence offense or has had a temporary restraining order taken out in Morristown, Denville, Rockaway, Boonton, Parsippany, Roxbury or elsewhere in Morris County, contact our Morristown office at 973-309-7050 to learn how we can help you. Our initial consultations are free, and our Morris County criminal defense lawyers can be reached 24/7.
Types of Domestic Violence Charges in New Jersey
According to the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), the accuser in a domestic violence case must have a relationship with you that puts them in the class of individuals protected by this law. They must have endured at least one incident of domestic violence.
To accuse you of domestic violence, your relationship to the accuser must be:
- Former spouse
- Currently or formerly living together
- Having had a child with you
- Pregnant with your child or anticipating having a child with you, or
- Having a prior dating relationship with you.
The second thing that must be established by your accuser is that she or he was the victim of some incident of domestic violence, which may lead to charges such as:
- Simple assault
- Aggravated assault
- Criminal restraint
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual assault
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Cyber harassment
- Terroristic threat
Homicide and any crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury against a person protected by the PDVA can be charged as domestic violence.
Police who answer domestic violence complaints in New Jersey have been trained to believe they can stop violence in the home by reacting strongly to domestic violence calls. Police must arrest a domestic violence suspect and sign a criminal complaint against them if the alleged victim shows signs of injury caused by an act of domestic violence.
Police also are required to make an arrest in a domestic violence complaint if they have probable cause to believe:
- A weapon was involved
- A restraining order has been violated
- The alleged victim exhibits signs of an internal injury
- Despite no visible signs of injury, the alleged victim claims injury and the officer believes “other relevant factors” create probable cause for an arrest.
If both people involved in a domestic dispute are injured, the police officer is expected to determine who was the victim and who was the assailant and make an arrest. A police officer may make a discretionary arrest and sign a criminal charge of domestic violence against you.
What You Need to Do After a Morris County Domestic Violence Arrest
If you have been arrested on domestic violence charges, you should remain calm and decline to make any statement to police until an attorney is present. Don’t think you can convince police to drop charges against you. You can make mistakes that will have long-lasting adverse consequences. You need to ask to contact your lawyer.
The faster an attorney from the Law Offices of Johnathan F. Marshall becomes involved in your case, the sooner we can start developing your defense to challenge the evidence against you and have the domestic violence charges reduced or dismissed.
When you are arrested for domestic violence, the police may immediately seek a restraining order in municipal or superior court. A restraining order may require you to:
- Leave your home
- Not contact or communicate with the accuser or children in the household (including by telephone, text, e-mail, postal mail)
- Make mortgage or rent payments and pay child support, without being allowed to enter the home
- Give up any firearms or other weapons.
If a restraining order against a person accused of domestic violence already exists, the accused offender will automatically be jailed for a violation of the restraining order.
Fighting Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
After a domestic violence arrest, the most pressing issue for most people is a temporary restraining order (TRO). In about a week after your arrest, you will face a TRO hearing in which a judge will decide whether the TRO becomes a final restraining order (FRO).
If you do not have an attorney standing up for your rights at the hearing, the court-imposed restrictions on your life, finances and contact with your children and other family members can become permanent. The TRO hearing is the only opportunity you will have to present your side of the story, so it is important to have an experienced lawyer skilled in fighting domestic violence restraining orders.
If the court enters an FRO, it is considered permanent and cannot be removed unless the victim petitions the court to have it lifted or if you file a motion to vacate the FRO. If you file such a motion, you must notify the victim so she or he may object.
When filing for a hearing, you must show that there is a basis for the hearing. If the court grants a hearing, each party in the domestic dispute will have the chance to testify, present additional witnesses and present appropriate documentary evidence about your conduct toward and relationship with the accuser.
When hearing an application to lift an FRO, a seminal case known as Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J. Super. 424 (Ch. Div. 1995) requires the court to consider:
- Whether the accuser consents to lifting the order
- The accuser’s objective fear of the defendant
- Current nature of the relationship between the parties
- Contempt convictions
- Alcohol and drug use
- Other violent acts by the defendant
- Whether defendant has engaged in domestic violence counseling
- Age and health of the defendant
- Good faith of the plaintiff
- Orders entered in any other jurisdiction
- Other factors the court deems relevant.
If the court lifts the FRO, its restrictions no longer apply. However, the domestic violence conviction remains a part of the court’s record, and your name will remain on the National Domestic Violence Registry.
This is why we say it is imperative that you have the best legal services that you can obtain as soon as possible after a domestic violence arrest. Our attorneys can work to stop a TRO from becoming final.
How to Get Your Domestic Violence Case Dismissed
Most domestic violence cases pit one person’s word against another’s, with no solid evidence of either party’s guilt. Police typically arrive in the middle of a dispute and, by law, must take the side of the apparent victim.
Every day in New Jersey, domestic violence charges are dropped, and defendants are found not guilty. As your Morristown town domestic violence defense attorneys, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will work to demonstrate that the evidence supports your side of the story.
We will seek answers to questions that must be addressed to determine the validity of a domestic violence charge, including:
- Was the alleged assault intentional or an accident?
- Does the police report portray what you recall happening?
- What do 911 recordings indicate?
- Do medical records or photos show injuries from the alleged assault?
- Did an act of self-defense or intentional self-harm lead to the alleged victim’s injury?
- Are the alleged victim’s statements to police consistent and/or plausible?
- Are there additional credible witnesses to the incident?
- Are there reasons to discount statements by the alleged victim and/or witnesses, such as previous false statements, mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse or impairment?
- Do physical or mental issues make you incapable of inflicting harm or forming the intent to harm?
- Was there police misconduct that warrants dismissal of charges, such as failure to read you your Miranda rights against self-incrimination?
Often a domestic violence complaint involves a spontaneous argument, long-standing dispute or a breakup or divorce. Our experience shows that accusations made in the heat of passion can be exaggerated. We also know that, in time, accusations and charges may be taken back.
Our attorneys are skilled and experienced negotiators who can reach out to your accuser, if appropriate. It is not unusual for domestic violence charges to be withdrawn, after which the court can terminate a TRO.
In other cases, we can persuade the prosecutor and court to reduce or drop charges in exchange for you agreeing to certain conditions, such as attending anger management classes.
If an FRO is handed down, we can work to establish certain rights, such as reasonable visitation with your children.
To ensure your rights are fully protected, you need an experienced N.J. domestic violence defense attorney on your side. Our Morris County domestic abuse attorneys have a detailed understanding of this area of law. We have the professional relationships required to obtain the best possible legal outcome for you.
Contact Our Morris County Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have assisted clients facing serious accusations of domestic violence in numerous cases. We bring the insights of both former prosecutors and public defenders to help our clients. We have the experience to help you preserve your rights when you enter a municipal or superior court in Morris County.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a domestic violence crime or is subject to a temporary restraining order as a result of allegations of domestic abuse, contact us today. Our Morris County, NJ domestic violence attorneys are available 24/7 to answer any questions that you may have in a free initial consultation.