Accused of Domestic Violence in Clark NJ
January 20, 2021
Have a Domestic Violence Case in Clark NJ?
Acts of domestic violence are taken seriously across the country. Significant funding and advancements have been made to protect those who are alleged victims of domestic violence. Clark, and Union County, New Jersey as a whole are no different when it comes to offering relief to domestic abuse victims. In fact, any victim of domestic violence who files for a restraining order will be heard and their case rushed through the court system, as these are deemed emergent matters. Law enforcement and courts across the state want to ensure that victims are sufficiently protected as soon as possible. Those accused of criminal domestic violence offenses and those forced to defend against restraining orders are equally entitled to aggressively challenge these allegations.
If you have received a restraining order or have been charged with a domestic violence offense such as simple assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, or criminal mischief, the best way to protect yourself in Clark Municipal Court and Union County Superior Court is to hire an attorney familiar with domestic violence cases. Inexperience in family court and criminal courts can lead to disastrous results and hiring the right attorney should be given ample consideration. The stakes can be high in domestic violence cases and not taking the matters seriously is a mistake. The lawyers at our Union County law office have experience handling all aspects of domestic violence cases in Clark Township and everywhere else in New Jersey for that matter. To receive a free consultation, simply send us a message or contact (908) 838-0150 to discuss your case now.
Acts of Domestic Violence in Clark
Domestic violence is any act included under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, committed by one person against another. Acts constituting domestic violence can be felonies known as indictable crimes, or disorderly persons offenses referring to misdemeanors. The alleged bad acts include harassment, simple assault, terroristic threats, strangulation, kidnapping, homicide, sexual assault and other violent, threatening, or dangerous crimes.
The risks can be high, as you do face jail for all domestic violence offenses. For a disorderly persons offense such as simple assault, the municipal court can impose county jail terms up to 180 days. Even worse, for a criminal offense of the fourth degree, jail of 12-18 months is permissible. For third degree criminal charges, the state prison time tops out at 5 years and this leaps to an astounding sentence of 5-10 years for second degree crimes.
Courts that Handle Clark Domestic Violence Cases
The crimes associated with domestic violence are heard in municipal court or superior court. If the underlining crime of domestic violence is a felony such as aggravated assault, burglary, or aggravated sexual assault, the crime will be handled in Union County Superior Court. For disorderly persons offenses such as simple assault or harassment, the case will be heard in Clark Municipal Court. In either venue, the judge wields the power of punishment, holding the threat of jail time over your head if convicted. The jury decides a case after trial in Superior Court, while the Municipal Court judge decides a case under that court’s jurisdiction.
However, the actual application and consideration for a final restraining order rests with the Family Court in Union County. In a restraining order case, a trial in front of the judge may be conducted before a final restraining order becomes legally effectuated. At the hearing, the alleged victim has the burden of proving that an act of domestic violence occurred, that he or she is in fear, and that the plaintiff is entitled to protection under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The judge will also allow the accused to cross-examine the alleged victim and present witnesses of his or her own to dispute the domestic violence assertions.
Who can Qualify for a Restraining Order in Clark NJ
Another aspect of domestic violence is that there must be some defined relationship under the statute making the person a “protected party.” Current or former spouses, significant others, or household members are all persons who may seek protection through a restraining order. Clark is a suburban community composed of many families whose members would be theoretically protected under the Act.
In Clark, the last census accounted for roughly 14,000 residents. Out of those residents, there were approximately 5,000 households, meaning the majority of the population is made up of families or people who are otherwise living together. Current or former household members are protected persons under the statute who could apply for a restraining order. Conversely, if you and your neighbor had a spat, the neighbor could not file for a restraining order because you do not currently live with them and have never been in a dating relationship.
Aside from an act of domestic violence and the standing of a victim as a protected person, the accuser must assert at a hearing that she is afraid of you. He or she must be in fear for his or her own safety and testify to the same. Some people say they are afraid but the reality is that they have done, or said something to the contrary via text message or otherwise. For instance, we regularly see restraining orders used as a tool against the other party and the accuser often texts the accused that they love them, miss them, and want them to return home. These things may go a long way in proving that there is no fear present. There are other factors that can be argued as well.
Need a Lawyer for Domestic Violence, Restraining Order in Clark, New Jersey
Anyone charged with domestic violence and the associated offenses faces an uphill battle. Each case in the respective courts is different, and there are different proceedings and levels of proof required. Proof in a criminal trial is beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas for a restraining order in the Family Court, the proof required establishing that an act of domestic violence occurred is by a lower standard, namely a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Having an attorney by your side that understands each court and is experienced in domestic violence cases is clearly advantageous. Do not place yourself in a less desirable position. Instead, protect your rights by calling us for legal assistance today. Send a message or contact (908) 838-0150 to discuss your Clark domestic violence or restraining order matter with a lawyer free of charge.