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Is Domestic Violence a Felony in New Jersey?

Domestic violence is an issue taken seriously across all of America. Domestic violence may be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the particular case. People who commit domestic violence will be prosecuted and receive a slew of punishments. The severity of the penalties and charges will vary depending on the specifics of the situation.

If you require legal assistance relating to domestic violence, contact a Bergen County criminal defense attorney.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can relate to any form of violence occurring between two people in a close or intimate relationship, including a partner, relative, or roommate. Specifically, domestic violence is considered between people who are married, were married, are living together, used to live together, have dated, or have a child together. In New Jersey, domestic violence can be considered any form of:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Financial abuse
  • Harassment

Actions that are considered domestic violence include:

  • Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Threatening
  • Sexual assault
  • Coercion
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Lewdness
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Homicide

Most of these are already crimes on their own, but when the crime is committed by someone with an intimate relationship as described above, it is considered domestic violence.

What Are the Penalties for a Domestic Violence Felony?

As stated, domestic violence charges may be a misdemeanor (also known as a disorderly persons offense in NJ) or a felony (also known as an indictable offense in NJ).

To be considered a misdemeanor, the domestic violence will probably be a charge of assault, stalking, or harassment. Misdemeanor penalties include:

  • Probation
  • Mandatory anger management classes
  • Fines ranging from $50 to $500
  • Jail time of up to 6 months

Felony penalties could be aggravated assault, sexual assault, or use of a deadly weapon. Penalties for a felony offense include fines and jail time that vary depending on the degree of the offense.

  • Fourth-degree felonies will result in up to 18 months in jail
  • Third-degree felonies will result in 3 to 5 years in jail
  • Second-degree felonies will result in 5 to 10 years in jail
  • First-degree felonies will result in up to 20 years in jail

Receiving a domestic violence conviction will result in a criminal record that can stay with you for the remainder of your life. Criminal records can negatively affect your ability to gain employment, rent a house or apartment, maintain the legal right to see your children, and more.

What About Restraining Orders?

After a domestic violence charge has been filed, a judge will probably declare a no-contact order. This is intended to prevent the defendant from communicating in any way with the victim, whether it be face-to-face, text messaging, calling, emailing, etc.

A victim may request a restraining order for their own safety so the defendant will not legally be allowed within a certain distance of the victim. It will probably be a temporary restraining order until the hearing takes place.

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