Is Committing an Act of Domestic Violence in Front of a Child a Crime?
Domestic violence is a major problem in New Jersey. According to new articles, there were 32,691 claims of domestic violence in New Jersey in 2015, a slight increase from 2014. Last year along, 52 deaths were the result of domestic abuse. In fact, the FBI claims that domestic violence is responsible for a third of the female homicide victims in the United States. It’s an epidemic that needs to be stopped.
The New Jersey Legislature is trying to take steps in punishing abusers. In March 2016, the assembly passed a new bill aimed at establishing a new crime of domestic violence in the state. According to the bill, if an act of domestic violence is committed in the presence of a child under the age of 16, it is it is considered a fourth degree crime. What are the details of the bill? And what can happen to the abuser?
Here’s how the bill is broken down:
- The crime is committed as long as the act is in the physical presence of a child or the abuser knows the child is present and may see or hear the abuse.
- The crime is a crime of the fourth degree if the underlying offense is a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, the crime will be considered a crime one degree higher than the most serious underlying offense.
- However, the person does not require a person to be convicted of the underlying offense to be convicted of committing a crime of domestic violence in the presence of a child.
- The court must impose a separate sentence upon conviction of the crime.
So what does this all mean? Let’s say your playing with your child at a public playground. While at the playground, your estranged husband comes by. You get into an argument. He hits you in front of your child and threatens to do more harm before leaving. Since he committed simple assault, made terroristic threats, and did these acts in front of your child, he can be charged for all three of these crimes.
What is the punishment for this crime? It all depends on the severity of the crime:
- If it was a fourth degree crime, you will receive a jail sentence of up to 18 months and/or receive a fine of up to $10,000
- If it was a third degree crime, you will receive a jail sentence of three to five years and/or receive a fine of up to $15,000
- If it was a second degree crime, you will receive a jail sentence of five to 10 years and/or receive a fine of up to $150,000
- If it was a first degree crime, you will receive a jail sentence of 10 to 20 years and/or receive a fine of up to $200,000
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you need to know your legal rights. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.