male and female in a domestic argument

Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer in Edison, New Jersey

Domestic violence charges are a serious matter, and having the right defense attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. 

In domestic cases, it is common to see both a criminal charge penned out by the police – such as a simple assault – and a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by the alleged victim. The criminal case would be in the municipal court where the alleged crime took place or in the Middlesex County Superior Court before a criminal judge if the allegations resulted in an indictable (felony) crime being charged. 

In a criminal domestic violence case, the State (prosecutor) bears the burden to prove the charges against you “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In municipal court, a judge would determine guilt during a bench trial, while in superior court, a jury made up of 12 citizens would determine if the prosecutor has proven their case. 

On the other hand, a restraining order is always handled in superior court by a family court judge. There is no prosecutor or jury involved, and the alleged victim (plaintiff) would have the burden of proving the act of domestic violence and the need for a final restraining order by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a lesser standard than beyond a reasonable doubt that is needed for a criminal conviction. 

At William Proetta Criminal Law, we have the experience and knowledge to provide the legal advice and advocacy you need for these multi-faceted cases.

If you were arrested and charged with domestic violence or served with a restraining order in Edison, contact us today for a free consultation. Our experienced Edison domestic violence defense lawyer is ready to review your case and discuss your best legal options. We have the resources and perspective to develop a smart, strong defense for you.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence in Edison, New Jersey?

New Jersey defines domestic violence as the occurrence of one or more of 18 specific criminal acts against a current or former spouse, intimate partner, household member, family member, or someone with whom the accused shares a child in common. 

In New Jersey, the law defines domestic violence by the accused’s relationship to the alleged victim rather than the act itself. For example, if someone were to enter and steal from a stranger’s home, it would be considered burglary. However, if they were to do the same to their ex’s house, it would be regarded as domestic violence. 

Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. It can include actions such as hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, punching, shoving, restraining, threatening, stalking, harassing, or any other form of controlling behavior. 

New Jersey Laws on Domestic Violence

The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), which was enacted in 1991, provides victims of domestic violence with protections of a temporary restraining order and, ultimately, a final restraining order if a superior court judge determines the requirements and need has been met. Under the PDVA, domestic violence is defined as any pattern of physical, verbal, economic, psychological, or sexual abuse intended to gain or maintain power and control over the victim. The PDVA applies to emancipated minors, persons over 18, and persons of any age who have had a dating relationship with the alleged perpetrator, or who either have a child with or are expecting to have a child in common with the perpetrator. 

Mandatory Arrests for Domestic Violence in Edison, NJ

In New Jersey, police officers must make a mandatory arrest in domestic violence situations if they have probable cause that a crime occurred, observe signs of injury on the alleged victim, or discover a pre-existing warrant or restraining order violation. That means that the police must arrest the person who appears most likely to be the perpetrator of the crime. Although well-intentioned, this requirement is far from perfect and often results in the wrong person being charged as the “aggressor.” For instance, the first person to call the cops will often be labeled the victim. In some situations, the person who has the worst injuries will be considered the victim even though both people were injured and the real aggressor sustained their injuries from the real victim trying to defend themselves.

It is important to understand that a mandatory arrest does not mean an automatic conviction. The legal process has many safeguards and opportunities for a person accused of domestic violence to defend themselves and contest the charges. A hallmark of the American justice system is that anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty.

What Are the Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge?

The consequences of being convicted of domestic violence in Edison, New Jersey, can be harsh. Penalties vary greatly depending on the type and severity of the crime. If convicted of a disorderly persons domestic violence crime (a misdemeanor), you may receive up to six months in jail, probation, anger-management classes, and a fine of up to $500. 

If you are convicted of an indictable domestic violence crime (a felony), your sentence will depend on the charge’s degree:

First-degree offenses – Up to 20 years in prison
Second-degree offenses – 5 to 10 years in prison
Third-degree offenses – 3 to 5 years in prison
Fourth-degree offenses – Up to 18 months in prison

Aside from incarceration and a permanent criminal record, if convicted, defendants can also expect a host of other collateral consequences, such as not being able to own firearms and finding themselves out of work. For non-citizens, the situation can be even worse since a domestic violence conviction can result in serious immigration consequences, such as removal proceedings, restrictions on being able to re-enter the country if you leave voluntarily, and inability to renew your visa, green card, or become a naturalized US citizen. In cases where our clients are not citizens, we always recommend they discuss these potential penalties with an immigration attorney who we will work with hand in hand to ensure the best possible resolution to avoid or minimize any immigration consequences.

Common Charges Related to Domestic Violence in Edison

A domestic violence charge in New Jersey encompasses more than just physical assaults, sexual assaults, or harassment. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act defines domestic violence as any of the following 18 criminal offenses:

  • Burglary
  • Criminal restraint
  • Criminal trespass
  • False imprisonment
  • Contempt
  • Criminal coercion
  • Harassment
  • Sexual assault
  • Cyber harassment

These 18 crimes are considered domestic violence based on the victim’s relationship to the perpetrator. The crime will likely be deemed domestic violence if the victim and the perpetrator are related in one of the following ways:

  • Married, divorced, or separated
  • Dating or dated in the past
  • Live together or used to live together
  • Have or are expecting a child together
  • Family members

What Are Potential Defenses to a Domestic Violence Charge?

If you were accused of domestic violence in Edison, New Jersey, you may have several potential defenses to the charges, such as:

  • False accusation – Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for individuals to falsely accuse another person of domestic violence out of anger, revenge, or even for financial gain. Your attorney may be able to prove that the accusation was false or fabricated. This is especially common in cases involving divorce proceedings or child custody disputes.
  • Self-defense – You may be able to argue that you were acting in self-defense and were only trying to protect yourself from harm. 
  • Lack of evidence – Your attorney may be able to show that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of domestic violence in a criminal proceeding or by a preponderance of the evidence for a restraining order.
  • Statute of limitations – The statute of limitations refers to the period within which you can be charged with a crime. Your attorney may be able to argue that the statute of limitations has passed and, therefore, the judge should dismiss your case. 

Why You Need an Edison Domestic Violence Defense Attorney on Your Side

A defense attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case if you are facing a domestic violence charge in Edison. When you work with William Proetta Criminal Law, you can count on us to:

  • Advise you on your rights under the law
  • Explain your options 
  • Help you make informed decisions 
  • Investigate your case and gather evidence in your favor
  • Examine the prosecution’s evidence to determine its accuracy and validity 
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf 
  • Develop intelligent, persuasive legal strategies to fight your charges 
  • File paperwork and other necessary documents 
  • Represent you in court during your trial 
  • Explore potential plea bargains to reduce or dismiss your charges 

Contact an Edison Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Now

At William Proetta Criminal Law, we understand the seriousness of domestic violence allegations, and we are prepared to mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. We are ready to guide you through the complexities of the criminal justice system and work hard to protect your rights. 

Contact us today for an initial legal consultation with an experienced Edison domestic violence defense lawyer.