What is Criminal Coercion in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, there are multiple criminal offenses associated with domestic violence. You have heard of the usual suspects – assault, harassment, and stalking, just to name a few. But, one that you probably aren’t familiar with is criminal coercion.
In fact, criminal coercion is something much larger than an act of domestic violence. It is the act of unlawfully forcing another person to do something through force or threat, otherwise restricting another’s freedom to engage or refrain from engaging in a specific action. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5, criminal coercion can be specifically recognized by threatening to:
- Inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other offense;
- Accuse anyone of an offense;
- Expose any secret which would tend to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
- Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
- Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, except that such a threat shall not be deemed coercive when the restriction compelled is demanded in the course of negotiation for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor acts;
- Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
- Perform any other act which would not in itself substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to substantially harm another person with respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.
In New Jersey, the penalties for criminal coercion can be severe. If you are found guilty of this offense, you can be convicted of a fourth-degree crime. The penalties can include up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you made a threat that considered more serious than that associated with a fourth-degree crime, you can be convicted of a third-degree crime. The penalties for this tier of crime include three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Criminal Coercion and Domestic Violence
It wasn’t until 2015 that criminal coercion was considered a crime under New Jersey’s domestic violence law. It joined an already large group of offenses such as assault, harassment, and lewdness (for information regarding what offenses are considered acts of domestic violence, visit our firm’s page related to the matter).
If your domestic abuser is coercing you to do something you don’t want to do, the time to act is now. You can file a restraining order against him or her. If you call the police and they suspect domestic violence occurring, they can arrest the abuser for probable cause and grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) if things are dire.
Attorney Carbone Can Help
Criminal coercion can happen in many forms. Don’t be a victim. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today. One call to our offices or click to our contact page can save you months or even years of pain.