New Jersey Domestic Violence Law: What Constitutes Domestic Battery?
Union County Attorneys Discuss How Startling Prevalent These Cases Have Become According to Recent Statistics
According to the New Jersey State Police, there were nearly 63,500 reports of domestic abuse in one year in 2016, the most recent year for which there is data, and numbers seem to be steady or increasing. Domestic violence, which the United States Department of Justice defines as the use of abusive behavior to gain control over a partner or maintain that control, can come in many forms.
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 specifies the forms of domestic abuse that are chargeable offenses under New Jersey law; there are nineteen types that can be prosecuted. They are domestic assault, harassment, cyber harassment, burglary, robbery, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, criminal mischief, terroristic threats, stalking, false imprisonment, criminal restraint, kidnapping, criminal coercion, criminal trespassing, lewdness, contempt of a domestic violence restraining order, any crime that involves the serious injury or risk of death to an individual protected under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, and homicide.
What is the difference between Domestic Battery and Domestic Assault?
While domestic battery and domestic assault are often popularly considered the same thing, they are different according to New Jersey law. The primary difference between assault and battery is the infliction of physical injury. Someone can be charged in New Jersey with assault even in the absence of infliction of physical harm. For example, threatening comments can be considered assault. In the case of domestic battery, however, there is almost always actual physical harm inflicted. This could include physical injury caused by one partner toward another, or one person toward a family member or other member of their household. Battery, in which physical harm is caused, is also known as “aggravated assault.”
New Jersey Statutes N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b) states that an aggravated assault or battery charge will result when one intentionally or recklessly inflicts physical injury on someone. Both an attack that includes a weapon and one that occurs in the absence of a weapon can be considered aggravated assault if it causes physical harm.
When such a battery is inflicted on a household member, the charge is converted into a domestic violence charge. The following people are protected by the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 and N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19:
- romantic partners, former or current
- spouses, former or current
- co-parents, including those with whom either party is currently expecting a child
- members of the defendant’s household, former or current
An officer simply needs probable cause to make an arrest for domestic violence. This probable cause could include the appearance of signs of physical injury on the victim, or the victim’s statement to police including the testimony of having been physically pushed, grabbed, kicked, hit with an object, burned, or sexually assaulted. In the case that both partners report or show evidence of having been physically abused, an officer is within their legal authority to arrest both parties.
Why is it important to have legal representation in a domestic battery charge?
Having the support of a skilled and experienced New Jersey domestic violence defense lawyer is essential in the case that you have been charged with domestic battery. Why? The main reason is that in the realm of domestic violence charges, and assault and battery charges in general, there is a lot of nuances that differentiate one charge from the next. You’ll need to have the skilled guidance of a defense attorney to determine what specifically your charges are. Understanding whether you’ve been charged with simple domestic assault or domestic aggravated battery will determine your legal team’s preparation of your defense, as they represent a vast range in the severity of the charge and, therefore, the likely sentence.
Domestic violence is a prevalent issue, and as such, the New Jersey courts treat it as a serious offense. The effects of a domestic violence charge can have a longstanding impact on your life, affecting your ability to get a job, see your family, and lead a normal life, potentially for the entirety of your lifetime. The nuances of domestic violence cases are many because much of what happens in a situation of domestic violence happens behind closed doors. As such, make sure you are well represented to ensure the most just possible outcome.
Call our Union County Domestic Violence Attorneys Today
At Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, our team of experienced domestic violence lawyers is committed to serving our clients across Summit, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Linden, and Union County in all domestic violence cases.
To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our firm regarding your domestic violence case, please contact us online or throughout the NJ office by calling (908) 481-4625 today for a confidential consultation today.