The Essex County domestic violence defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have a combined total of more than two centuries of experience representing defendants accused of domestic violence against their children, ex-spouses, or romantic partners. The law firm has two conveniently located offices in Essex County, New Jersey — one in Bloomfield and the other in Newark. The law firm only deals with criminal defense and DWI cases, so all 11 of our lawyers are 100% dedicated to helping defendants in domestic violence cases and other kinds of criminal cases. We have experience working in the Essex County prosecutor’s office and in the municipal prosecutors’ offices of several New Jersey towns in Essex County. Therefore, if your ex-spouse files for a restraining order against you, even if they have not filed any criminal charges yet, you should contact the Essex County domestic violence defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall.
How is Domestic Violence Different From Other Kinds of Criminal Cases?
Domestic violence accusations can lead to a complex legal situation; if your partner or ex-partner accuses you of behaving violently toward them or toward your children, you need a lawyer’s help even if no criminal charges are involved. A large percentage of acts of violence are committed by members of the victims’ own families, so it makes sense to have laws designed specifically to prevent domestic violence and to help people who fear violence at the hands of their family members get out of the situation before things escalate.
At the same time, being accused of domestic violence can lead to legal consequences and social stigma even if you are never convicted of a crime, or even formally charged with one; it feels like an exception to being presumed innocent until proven guilty. Having a restraining order against you is disruptive; it adds another layer of stress to your work, your divorce proceedings, and your efforts to maintain a good relationship with your children during and after your divorce. The court can forbid you to enter the house or apartment where your name is on the lease or title ad can limit your interactions with your children; in extreme cases, the court can order you to have no contact at all with your children, even if you have never physically harmed them. This is all the more reason to contact an Essex County domestic violence defense lawyer if your ex files for a restraining order against you because of allegations of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence in Essex County is a Violent Crime
Domestic violence is not one specific crime; instead, it is a general term for many different criminal offenses where the perpetrator and the victim are members of the same family or household, or if they have ever been in a romantic relationship with each other, even if they were never legally married. In most domestic violence cases, the accuser is a current or former spouse or romantic partner of the defendant, or a family member alleges that the defendant acted violently toward the defendant’s child. The criminal charges in domestic violence cases can be for almost any kind of violent crime, including but not limited to the following:
- Simple assault
- Aggravated assault
- Making terroristic threats
- Sexual assault or attempted sexual assault
- False imprisonment
- Burglary (if you enter your ex-spouse’s house and remove property without your ex’s consent)
- Criminal trespass (if you enter your ex-spouse’s house or workplace without permission)
If you are convicted of any of these crimes, you could face a prison sentence. Even if your conviction is for a lesser offense, it could still mean years of probation and obstacles to employment and to a stable relationship with your children. Getting the charges dropped or reduced will make it easier to repair your relationship with your family; it will not immediately transform your situation into an amicable divorce, but it will strengthen your case for returning to unsupervised parenting time.
Domestic Violence Lawyers Can Help if There is a Restraining Order Against You
It is easy for a person who feels that they are in danger of domestic violence to get a restraining order against the family member or ex-partner from whom they fear violence. The accuser only needs to contact the Family Division of the Essex County Superior Court, and the temporary restraining order goes into effect almost immediately. The accuser does not need to prove that the defendant has physically injured them; they only have to demonstrate that they have reasonable fear that the defendant will physically harm them, based on specific threats the defendant made or because of the defendant’s recent pattern of behavior. Once it goes into effect, the defendant must stay away from the accuser, even if that means not entering their own home for several weeks. Of course, there will be hearings later to determine how long, if at all, to extend the restraining order and what its conditions will be. Failure to comply with the terms of the restraining order, even accidentally, can create even bigger legal problems for you, so it is best to work closely with your Essex County domestic violence defense lawyer as long as a restraining order is in place.
Contempt of Court: How Minor Domestic Disturbances Turn Into Big Criminal Cases
If your ex files an emergency restraining order against you, you should comply with the order, even if it means not having access to your house and your stuff and not having contact with your children for a few days. Remember that it is only temporary, and that the courts will give you a chance to tell your side of the story. An Essex County domestic violence lawyer can help you clear your name of any criminal accusations and might even be able to resolve the issues without any formal criminal charges being filed; remember that a restraining order is not a criminal charge. Likewise, a family law attorney can help you resolve problems related to parenting time, child support, and division of property.
A restraining order, no matter its duration, is not a criminal conviction, but it is a court order, much like a divorce judgment or parenting plan. If you violate any kind of court order, the court can hold you in contempt (contempt of court means disobeying a court order) and can impose civil or criminal penalties.
Contempt of court is common in acrimonious divorce cases, especially if there are allegations of domestic violence involved. In many instances, the court has the option of imposing criminal penalties, such as fines, probation, or even jail time on people who disobey orders issued by the family court. In the following instances, though, the court can only impose civil penalties, not criminal ones:
- Violating a parenting time provision of a parenting plan (such as letting your children spend the weekend with your ex-spouse when the parenting plan specifies that the children should be with you every week from Friday evening to Sunday evening)
- Failure to make payments indicated in the court order, such as temporary alimony or mortgage payments on the marital home while the divorce case is pending (because this could be due to the defendant’s genuine inability to pay)
- Violation an order about temporary possession of personal property
- Failure to attend counseling as ordered by the court (because this could also be due to the defendant’s work commitments or inability to pay)
Violation of restraining orders related to domestic violence, however, is certainly fair game for criminal contempt of court, and the Essex County domestic violence defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help you avoid this predicament.
Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers in Essex County, New Jersey
If your spouse calls the police during a heated argument, or even if your ex-partner just files for a restraining order against you because of threats that you allegedly made, do not panic. If you do not hire a lawyer, the situation might get resolved on its own (you might even reconcile), or things could spiral out of control until you are facing criminal charges for a violent crime. If you contact our Essex County New Jersey domestic violence lawyers early on, we can help you stop things from getting worse.
Hiring a lawyer when your ex is accusing you of domestic violence should be an easy choice, as should the decision about which Essex County domestic violence attorney to hire. The best choice is the Essex County domestic violence defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall. We have dealt with domestic violence cases from the prosecution’s perspective as well as the defendants’. The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have two convenient locations in Essex County, so you will not need to travel far to find the best possible lawyer to represent you in your domestic violence case. Contact the Essex County, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall if you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence or if your ex has filed a restraining order against you.