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Passaic County Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyers
If police come to your home regarding a domestic violence complaint in Wayne, Paterson, Totowa, Bloomingdale, Little Falls, North Haledon, Hawthorne, Woodland Park, or another Passaic County community, you may be arrested. New Jersey requires law enforcement to arrest a suspect if an accuser – a spouse, romantic partner, cohabitant, or any household or family member – shows any sign of injury. An arrest may occur even in some instances where no one has been physically hurt.
Inevitably, a domestic violence charge in Passaic County results in a court issuing a restraining order, which can have a devastating impact on your livelihood. If law enforcement also charges you with a related violent crime such as assault, stalking, or kidnapping (holding or detaining someone against their will), you could face imprisonment, steep fines, and additional penalties.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we understand how to keep a family dispute from escalating into a criminal case and a mark on your public record. Our savvy legal team includes former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders with 100 years of combined expertise and compassionate negotiating strategies. This proves especially helpful in domestic violence cases, where children often are involved.
Contact our Wayne office for a free initial legal consultation to learn how our Passaic County domestic violence attorneys can assist you.
What Happens in a Passaic County Domestic Violence Complaint?
Passaic County law enforcement officers are trained to believe that they can stop violence within the home and perhaps in the community by reacting strongly to domestic violence calls. They must take someone into custody and sign a criminal complaint against that person if an accuser shows signs of injury as a result of domestic violence.
Law enforcement also is required to arrest someone on a domestic violence charge if:
- The alleged victim exhibits “manifestations of an internal injury” or signs of an external injury.
- A weapon was involved.
- A restraining order (no-contact court order) has been violated.
- The victim shows no signs of injury but claims to be injured, and law enforcement believes “other relevant factors” create probable cause for an arrest.
Law enforcement officers also may make a discretionary arrest under some circumstances.
To determine which parties are the alleged assailant and the alleged victim, law enforcement considers factors including:
- The history of domestic violence between the parties, if any
- Each person’s fear of physical harm, if any, caused by the other’s actual or threatened use of force
- The comparative extent of injuries suffered
- Whether one person acted in self-defense
After a person’s arrest, police may immediately seek a restraining order against that person from Passaic County Superior Court or one of the county’s municipal courts. A restraining order typically requires an accused offender to:
- Leave their residence
- Surrender any firearms or other weapons to law enforcement
- Refrain from any form of contact or communication (including phone calls, text messages, and e-mail) with other members of the household, including children
- Continue to make mortgage or rent payments and pay child support, if applicable
If you already have an outstanding restraining order and you’re accused again of domestic violence, you will automatically be jailed for violation of a restraining order.
Depending on what occurred, law enforcement or the court may file additional criminal charges, such as:
- Simple Assault
- Criminal Trespass
- Terroristic Threats
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- False Imprisonment
- Criminal Restraint
- Aggravated Manslaughter
Often, a defendant faces the greatest legal jeopardy because of an increase in the intensity or seriousness of a domestic dispute. This might occur during the initial conflict, but emotions also can run high during law enforcement’s initial police investigation, the arrest and booking process, or in court. It’s easy to make a mistake that has long-lasting consequences, even if that wasn’t initially your intent.
Who May Make a Domestic Violence Complaint in Passaic County?
New Jersey statues specify that a domestic violence victim may be:
- An adult (18 years old or older) or emancipated minor who has been subjected to domestic violence by a:
- Former spouse
- Any person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship
- Any person with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common because the victim or abuser is pregnant
- Any other present or former household member
- Anyone, regardless of age, who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim:
- Anticipates having a child in common, because the victim or abuser is pregnant
- Has a child in common
- Anyone, regardless of age, who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship
Disabled and elderly adults, as well as children, also may be subjected to abuse and domestic violence, but those offenses are filed under different statutes.
How Our Passaic County Defense Attorneys Can Help If You Face Domestic Violence Charges
In domestic violence situations, law enforcement at best arrives in the midst of what’s been a lengthy dispute. What they hear and see is frequently emotionally charged. By law, they must take the side of the apparent victim.
It’s important in such circumstances to remain as calm as possible and not volunteer any statements to investigators or your accuser until an attorney is present. We realize that complex family dynamics and emotions often come into play, but we’ve seen how clients easily can make mistakes with long-lasting consequences.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our Passaic County domestic violence criminal defense attorneys are on your side. We’ll seek your release from custody, examine the charges against you, challenge the evidence and how you were arrested, and negotiate to reduce or dismiss the charges.
We evaluate a domestic violence case by addressing questions such as:
- Was the alleged incident accidental or intentional?
- Does law enforcement’s understanding of the incident match your memory of events?
- Are there medical records or photos to prove injuries?
- Was any injury the alleged victim suffered inflicted through an act of intentional self-harm or an act of self-defense?
- Are the alleged victim’s statements consistent? Are they plausible?
- What do any 911 recordings indicate?
- Are there witnesses in addition to the alleged victim?
- Are there reasons to believe that the alleged victim or witnesses are unreliable because of a demonstrable or known lack of impartiality?
- Has the alleged victim or witnesses made previous false statements?
- Does the alleged victim or witnesses suffer from any impairment, such as alcohol or drug abuse or mental illness?
- Are there any factors that preclude your being found guilty domestic violence, such as an alibi at the time of the alleged incident, or a mental condition or physical disability that makes you incapable of intent?
- Was there misconduct on law enforcement’s behalf that warrants dismissing the charges, such as a failure to read your Miranda rights against self-incrimination, or illegal search and seizure?
We recognize how domestic violence complaints can occur in the heat of passion, such as the midst of an ugly divorce or breakup, or even a spontaneous argument. We’ve also seen firsthand how such accusations can be exaggerated, if not false—and how they may be seen differently once cooler heads prevail.
We also understand how other parties, such as children, can be caught in such circumstances. That’s why our attorneys work to find a resolution that’s satisfactory for all sides.
Sometimes, if it’s appropriate, we can reach out as your legal counsel to your accuser and discuss whether domestic violence charges can be withdrawn. Other times, we can persuade a prosecutor and court to lessen or drop the charges if you agree to conditions such as participating in an anger-management class.
In cases where a restraining order cannot be lifted, we’ll advocate for reasonable visitation with your children, if applicable.
Contact Our Passaic County Domestic Violence Lawyers Today
To take advantage of every potential path toward a reduced charge or sentence, and to ensure your rights are protected every step of the way, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today. Our attorneys understand the intricacies of New Jersey’s domestic violence laws and how to provide you with the best possible representation.
Visit us at our Wayne office at 73 Mountainview Blvd., call us, or contact us online. Our initial consultation is free, with no further obligation. We’re glad to answer any of your questions, discuss your legal options, and explain what we can do for you.