The stereotypical scenario involving domestic violence generally is a husband or boyfriend hitting his female partner. While this is the reality for some couples, it is not the only form of domestic violence that can occur and lead to legal consequences.
In fact, if you face charges of domestic violence, you may wonder why when you have never physically abused your partner (or other household member). Being aware of what counts as domestic violence in New Jersey is imperative in defending your case and preventing it from happening again.
The 1990 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act outlines what constitutes illegal conduct. While the most extreme forms include homicide, kidnapping and various types of assault, the list also contains the following nonphysical behaviors that are just as serious:
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespassing
The main idea is that physical contact is not necessary for an action to fall under domestic violence. Any practice you engage in that harms the physical, emotional, mental, sexual or economic well-being of another person with whom you have an intimate relationship may cause you to receive criminal charges. The law also covers those with whom your relationship is not romantic, such as an elderly relative you care for in your home.
Depending on the severity and visibility of the violence, an immediate consequence may be arrest and a temporary restraining order. However, even if you do experience these, the courts take allegations of domestic violence seriously.
Remember that any of your words can turn into incriminating evidence, so do not speak to the police about the incident until you have spoken to a criminal defense attorney first. Of course, you should cooperate with law enforcement, but you should not try to explain yourself or reenact the situation. With lifelong consequences at stake if you receive a conviction, it is best to be cautious.