Morris County Domestic Violence AttorneysA man from Livingston NJ is on his way to prison after he pleaded guilty to assaulting his former girlfriend during a domestic violence incident more than three years ago.

On February 1, 2013, the suspect met his ex-girlfriend and offered to give her a ride to work. While the two of them were driving through Morris County, they got into an argument. When the victim tried to get out of the car, the suspect grabbed a gun and pistol-whipped her.

The victim suffered significant injuries to the back of the head as a result of the attack. The suspect also allegedly fired the handgun twice during the incident, but none of the bullets struck the victim.

The suspect took the victim to Morristown Medical Center in Morristown NJ, where she got medical treatment. The suspect drove away before police or hospital officials could question him.

Police later tracked the suspect down at his Livingston home. After a six-hour standoff with police, the suspect was arrested. He was subsequently charged with multiple crimes, including attempted murder.

Morris County NJ prosecutors eventually offered the suspect a plea deal. In exchange for the suspect pleading guilty to charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and aggravated assault, prosecutors agreed to drop the more serious charges.

The suspect recently made an appearance in Morris County Superior Court, located in Morristown, so that he could be sentenced. The suspect was sentenced to a term of incarceration of seven years in NJ State Prison. Additionally, the judge ordered that the suspect be held without parole for a period of at least three years.

For additional information about this case, read the NJ.com article, “Man Who Pistol-Whipped Ex-Girlfriend Sentenced to 7 Years.”

Dover Domestic Violence AttorneysA man from Ecuador who was illegally residing in Dover NJ is set to go to prison after he pleaded guilty to violently assaulting his ex-wife.

The domestic violence incident unfolded at the Dover NJ residence of the victim on January 25, 2015. According to law enforcement, the suspect and his former wife got into an argument that eventually spilled over into violence. With the couple’s 10-year-old child watching, the suspect grabbed a knife and repeatedly stabbed the victim.

After the attack, the victim was able to dial 911 and notify the Dover Police Department. Dover NJ cops and emergency medical crews were dispatched to the scene, where they found the victim suffering from stab wounds and transported her to a local hospital.

Meanwhile, the victim fled the scene and avoided capture until police tracked him down in New York.

The suspect, a 32-year-old Ecuadorian citizen who is in the country illegally, initially faced criminal charges for attempted murder and endangering the welfare of a child. He eventually reached a plea agreement with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and admitted to stabbing his ex-wife. The plea deal called for the suspect to plead guilty to charges of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child, with prosecutors dropping the charges of attempted murder.

The suspect recently appeared in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown and entered the guilty plea. He will come back to the superior court at a later date in order to be formally sentenced. It is anticipated that Morris County NJ prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 10 years in NJ State Prison.

Additionally, the suspect will probably be deported back to Ecuador once he has completed his prison sentence.

For further information about this case, view the NJ.com article, “Man Admits Stabbing Ex-Wife More Than a Dozen Times in Dover, Report Says.”

Morris County NJ Domestic Violence LawyersProsecutors in Essex County recently made the decision to upgrade criminal charges against a mother and her boyfriend related to the death of the female suspect’s seven-year-old kid.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office initially filed criminal charges against the adult suspects for child endangerment. However, the criminal charges were eventually upgraded to aggravated manslaughter when the child tragically died as a result of his injuries. The incident unfolded on October 2, 2016, with Newark cops being dispatched to the couple’s home in Newark, New Jersey. Newark police officers found the seven-year-old boy at the residence, where he was unresponsive after having sustained traumatic injuries. An Essex County NJ medical examiner later determined that the boy’s death was directly caused by multiple blunt force traumas.

Authorities also revealed that the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as “DYFS,” had previously made a determination that the child was a victim of child abuse or neglect and that the male suspect was the person who committed the abuse. DCP&P investigators specifically “established” an allegation of child abuse, but they did not remove the child from the home.

As set forth by child abuse and neglect laws in New Jersey, there are four potential outcomes of a DCP&P investigation into allegations of child abuse and neglect: substantiated, established, not established, and unfounded. The threshold question that DCP&P investigators ask in these cases is whether the alleged victim was abused or neglected, as defined by Title 9 (N.J.S.A. 9:8.21, et. seq.). If investigators find that the child was a victim of abuse or neglect, the Division goes further and applies an analytical framework of aggravating and mitigating factors to decide if the allegation has been “substantiated” or “established.” When the factual scenario fails to meet the statutory definition of child abuse or neglect under Title 9, the Division will “not establish” the allegation and will probably find the allegation to be “unfounded.”

The recent Newark child abuse and manslaughter case highlights the fine line that exists between preserving the family unit and subjecting a child to the pain of being taken away from his or her family. When DCP&P conducts an investigation into an allegation of child abuse or child neglect, investigators typically address two important issues:

  1. Whether the child has been abused or neglected to such an extent that the child’s safety, health, and well-being are being placed in immediate danger.
  2. Whether it would be contrary to the child’s best interests to remain in the home.

There is an extremely important distinction between determining that a child has been abused or neglected and determining whether the child ought to be removed from his family. Of course, an instance of past abuse is usually considered highly relevant when determining whether the child is in immediate danger of being physically harmed. However, DCP&P investigators still take care to recognize the importance of maintaining the family unit, which is why they will not automatically conclude that a past instance of child abuse should lead to removal of the child from the home.

Newtown NJ Aggravated Assault LawyersA Vernon New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to charges related to the stabbing of a 17-year-old teenager during a domestic violence incident.

The violent incident occurred early in the morning at the suspect’s home in Vernon, NJ. According to the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, the suspect and his girlfriend got into a verbal altercation at the residence. When the girlfriend tried to exit home with her kids, the suspect reportedly attempted to stop her. That prompted the teen victim to intervene, with the suspect then stabbing the victim in the abdomen.

Someone at the house dialed 911 and notified the Vernon Police Department, which dispatched officers to the scene. When Vernon NJ cops got to the house, they arrested the suspect and arranged for transport of the victim to a nearby hospital.

The 50-year-old suspect faced criminal charges for aggravated assault in connection with the stabbing.

The suspect ultimately avoided a trial by reached a plea agreement with Sussex County prosecutors. In exchange for the suspect’s guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to lower the charges from second degree aggravated assault to third degree aggravated assault. As a result, the suspect now faces a maximum sentence of five years in New Jersey State Prison when he is formally sentenced next month.

For additional information about this case, read the NJ.com article, “Man Admits Stabbing Ex-Girlfriend’s 17-Year-Old Son, Report Says.”

Dover New Jersey Domestic Violence AttorneysA man facing attempted murder charges for allegedly trying to kill his ex-wife in Dover NJ is now claiming that he acted in self-defense.

The frightening incident went down on January 25, 2015 at a residence on West Blackwell Street in Dover, New Jersey. Authorities believe that the violent altercation began when the suspect and his ex-wife got into an argument about finances.

According to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the suspect tried to kill his ex-wife by grabbing a steak knife and using it to stab her several times. The suspect allegedly stabbed the victim three times in the legs, two times in the chest, two times in her back, and once in her arm.

When the couple’s 10-year-old daughter tried to intervene and stop the alleged attack against her mother, the suspect reportedly retreated and fled the scene.

According to law enforcement, the suspect ran from the Dover house and went to Penn Station, where he caught a train and left New Jersey. The suspect was later tracked down and arrested by police in Queens, NY.

During questioning by Morris County NJ detectives, the suspect reportedly waived his right to remain silent. However, there is now a dispute about whether an audio tape of the suspect’s statements to police should be admissible as evidence in the criminal case. The suspect’s criminal defense lawyers said that a transcript of the audio tape may be inaccurate because the suspect spoke Spanish while being questioned by law enforcement. The Morris County Superior Court judge will likely issue a ruling on the evidence issue sometime in early August.

The 30-year-old suspect is said to be an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador. He has been charged with numerous crimes, including attempted murder, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

The suspect also faces criminal charges for endangering the welfare of a child because his young daughter was at the residence during the violent incident.

Although the suspect and the victim were divorced, they lived in the same home. The victim did not have a restraining order against the suspect at the time of the attack.

The suspect is now claiming that he stabbed the victim in self-defense while they both struggled to grab the steak knife. The suspect made the self-defense claim during pre-trial testimony in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, NJ.

For further information about this case, view the DailyRecord.com article, “Dover Man Charged with Attempted Murder Claims Ex-Wife Assaulted Him First.”

Morristown NJ Domestic Violence AttorneysThe NJ Supreme Court recently issued a major ruling in a weapons possession case, marking the first time in 26 years that the state’s highest court has ruled on a firearms issue. The court, in a unanimous opinion, held that New Jersey’s domestic violence prevention law does not violate a citizen’s right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution. The NJ domestic violence prevention law relates to the right to bear arms because it allows law enforcement to confiscate weapons from alleged domestic violence offenders who have had a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a final restraining order (FRO) issued against them.

The forfeiture of weapons by anyone, whether it’s an accused domestic violence offender or an individual who has been convicted, is a major issue because it implicates constitutional rights. As such, the opinion, which was written by NJ Associate Justice Lee Solomon, specifically addressed the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Solomon, writing for the court, said that this constitutional right is “subject to reasonable limitations.” One of those limitations, said Solomon, is that “the police power of the state provides our Legislature with the authority to regulate firearms.”

Morris County NJ Domestic Violence Charges

In this case, the defendant’s wife accused him of domestic violence in Morristown, New Jersey, resulting in a restraining order. Additionally, police invoked the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to force the defendant to surrender his firearms because the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office argued that his “volatile marital history” raised serious concerns about his wife’s safety.

The lower courts actually ruled in favor of the defendant because his ex-wife was found to be lacking credibility. Moreover, said the lower courts, the defendant’s previous domestic difficulties did not outweigh his constitutional right to bear arms.

However, the NJ Supreme Court has now issued the final ruling in the case and declared that the weapons forfeiture was justified because the ex-cop had a history of domestic violence that includes numerous altercations during his previous marriage.

Tough Gun Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey is known for having some of the strictest handgun possession laws in the entire country. It appears that the NJ Supreme Court wants to ensure that the state’s gun crime laws remain incredibly tough.

The New Jersey Supreme Court last ruled on a firearms case in 1990, when the justices upheld the denial of firearms permits to two private detectives. In the most recent case, which implicated the NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991, the court ruled that a former Roseland NJ police officer must forfeit his weapons, as well as his firearms ID card, based on a prior history of domestic violence. This was a particularly limiting ruling on gun ownership rights because former police officers are typically afforded more leeway in New Jersey, with ex-cops remaining some of the few in the state who are actually allowed to have concealed carry permits for firearms.

The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act authorizes NJ state officials to revoke gun ownership rights for anyone who poses a risk to the “public health, safety, or welfare.” In a domestic violence case, the victim may be worried about a threat posed by the alleged domestic violence offender. That’s why NJ lawmakers decided to grant the authority to local law enforcement agencies to seize potentially deadly weapons from anyone accused of a domestic violence offense.

The Standard of Proof in NJ Domestic Violence Weapons Cases

New Jersey judges often take their cue from state legislators and err on the side of protecting public safety in domestic violence matters. Ultimately, a court needs to sign off on a police department’s seizure of handguns and other weapons from a person who has been hit with a temporary restraining order.

When considering these types of cases, courts must base their legal rulings on a civil standard of “preponderance of the evidence,” which essentially means that the threat of violence posed by the alleged domestic violence offender is more likely than not to lead to violence. This is the same standard of proof that is applied in restraining order hearings. By contrast, the criminal standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is significantly harder for a prosecutor to prove.

Response to the NJ Supreme Court Ruling on Domestic Violence Firearm Ownership Rights

After the NJ Supreme Court’s latest gun control ruling was handed down, Nancy Erika Smith, founder of Wynona’s House in Newark NJ and a legal advocate for domestic violence victims, praised the decision. “If you can’t control yourself, if you have to be violent to your own family,” said Smith, “of course you shouldn’t have a gun.”

Meanwhile, Alexander Roubian, the president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, echoed Smith’s sentiments. Roubian declared that “anybody who’s given due process and is guilty of domestic violence should not be allowed to own any type of weapon.”

Morristown NJ Domestic Violence LawyersThe NJ Supreme Court Committee on Domestic Violence recently released its final report and made recommendations relating to domestic violence matters. The recommendations affect things like resources, education, training, and the interactions between NJ Local Municipal Courts (which handle disorderly persons or misdemeanor-level cases) and NJ County Superior Courts (which handle indictable, felony-level cases and restraining orders).

The types of criminal charges handled in Municipal Court can include offenses like simple assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct relating to domestic violence matters. These are known as disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanors) and can result in a permanent criminal charge on your record if you are ultimately convicted. In Superior Court, indictable, felony cases are handled and can include serious criminal charges like aggravated assault, terroristic threats, stalking, sexual assault, and even homicide.

Meanwhile, the Superior Court, Family Division handles all domestic violence matters, including permanent restraining order hearings and violations of a restraining order (contempt).

The New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Domestic Violence was created by NJ Chief Justice Stuart Rabner in February 2015, with the committee’s goal being to examine current NJ domestic violence laws, resources presently available to domestic violence victims, the interaction between the court systems in New Jersey, any potential treatment methods available for domestic violence offenders, methods for risk assessment, and various resources for education and training on domestic violence issues. The domestic violence committee was composed of members from all three branches of government in NJ, the private sector, special interest advocacy groups, attorneys who represent clients charged with domestic violence offenses, and attorneys who represent victims of domestic violence. As a result, politicians, judges, prosecutors, and criminal defense attorneys from across New Jersey, including Morris County and Bergen County, were all important members of the committee.

The committee came forward with many recommendations, including:

  • Expanding the use of domestic violence advocates in Municipal Court cases so that both victims and defendants are fairly represented.
  • Developing court rules and procedures that will allow domestic violence victims in high-risk cases to feel safe by testifying in hearings without actually needing to be present in court.
  • Expanding current NJ domestic violence laws to include cyber-harassment and online threats as a basis for filing a restraining order.
  • Expanding the availability of therapeutic programs for children who are exposed to domestic violence.

I am Morris County NJ criminal defense lawyer Travis J. Tormey. As a criminal defense attorney, I see a potential issue with recommendation #2, which could allow alleged domestic violence victims to testify in court without actually needing to be present in the courtroom. This recommendation could potentially violate the confrontation clause, which exists to protect defendants’ rights by ensuring that anyone accused of a criminal act is able to confront their accuser. If this recommendation is implemented by NJ lawmakers, it could potentially violate a defendant’s constitutional right to due process. I understand the need to protect high-risk victims in domestic violence cases, but there are already protections in place: the courthouse is highly guarded by sheriff’s officers and there should not really be any valid safety concerns when the time comes to appear in court to testify.

Mount Olive NJ First Degree Murder LawyersA woman who was formerly employed as a Mount Olive NJ elementary school teacher could be headed to prison if she is convicted on domestic violence homicide charges in connection with the shooting death of her boyfriend.

The victim was shot and killed at a Mount Olive residence on March 3, 2014. According to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the suspect killed the victim at her home on Apollo Way.

The suspect, a 54-year-old Mount Olive resident, initially told police that she shot the victim by accident because she thought he was an intruder breaking into her home.

The suspect later changed her story, according to authorities. Sometime after being arrested, she reportedly said that she shot the victim in self-defense because he was attacking her. The suspect’s attorney also claimed that she was a domestic violence victim.

So what really happened on the night of the killing? The Mount Olive Police Department sent officers to the house after getting a call about a domestic violence incident. The caller also told police that they heard gunshots being fired at the residence.

When Mount Olive police officers arrived at the scene, they saw the victim’s body inside the house. The homicide victim was 51 years old when he tragically died. He previously worked as a New York City police officer.

After conducting an investigation, Mount Olive police and Morris County prosecutors determined that the suspect likely shot the victim when he tried to break up with her and end their relationship.

The suspect, who worked as a teacher at Marie V. Duffy Elementary School in Wharton NJ, was fired shortly after prosecutors charged her with first degree murder.

During pre-trial proceedings in the homicide case, the suspect’s criminal defense attorney argued in front of a Morris County Superior Court judge and tried to get certain evidence thrown out. For instance, the suspect reportedly made admissions to Mount Olive police on the night of the fatal shooting. The suspect is now attempting to get those admissions ruled inadmissible for trial, which will be held in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey.

It is expected that a ruling on the admissibility of the statements will come in July.

While the suspect awaits trial, she is being held at the Morris County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

For more information about this case, read the DailyRecord.com article, “Accused Mount Olive Killer Claims She Thought Boyfriend Was an Intruder.”

Mount Olive NJ Homicide LawyersAn ex-teacher at a Wharton NJ school faces criminal charges for allegedly murdering her boyfriend at her Mount Olive home.

According to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the 53-year-old suspect killed the victim on March 3, 2014. The victim was a 51-year-old man who resided in Staten Island, NY. He had reportedly gone to the suspect’s residence in Mount Olive NJ because he wanted to break up with her.

After the shooting, the suspect reportedly notified the Mount Olive Police Department. When Mount Olive NJ police officers arrived at the residence, they found the victim’s body.

The suspect is accused of shooting the victim while he tried to end the couple’s relationship.

Now the suspect is scheduled for trial in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey.

The suspect’s attorneys have indicated that she will claim self-defense in the homicide case. The suspect’s lawyers said that the homicide victim abused the suspect before the fatal shooting. For example, said the suspect’s lawyers, there were multiple prior acts of domestic violence between the suspect and the victim. Additionally, the suspect’s attorneys expect to introduce evidence reportedly showing that the homicide victim had a history of domestic violence with his ex-wife.

At this time, however, there does not seem to be supporting documentation of prior restraining orders between the suspect and the victim.

On June 6, the suspect’s attorneys will appear in Morris County Superior Court for a hearing to go over the admissibility of various statements allegedly made by the suspect to police.

The suspect used to work as a math teacher at Marie V. Duffy Elementary School in Wharton, New Jersey. At the time of the death, she was on a leave of absence from teaching at the elementary school.

For additional information about this case, read the DailyRecord.com article, “Woman Charged in Beau’s Killing in Mt. Olive to Claim Abuse.”

Montville NJ Homicide LawyersA man accused of murdering a three-year-old child in Montville New Jersey recently pleaded not guilty to the very serious criminal charges.

According to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the 29-year-old suspect used a belt to savagely beat the young boy to death in what has been classified as a domestic violence incident. The brutal beatings allegedly occurred at a motel located in the Pine Brook area of Montville, New Jersey. Law enforcement said that the suspect came from Pennsylvania and was living in Montville so that he could be near his girlfriend, the boy’s mother.

On April 10, 2015, the day on which the suspect allegedly beat the child, the suspect dialed 911 and told police that the young boy was choking. When Montville police officers got to the motel, they saw that the child was suffering from significant physical injuries. Police officers also reportedly observed that the victim’s mother had bruises across her face and her body.

Investigators talked to the woman, who told police that both she and the child had been beaten by the suspect.

Meanwhile, the young victim was transported to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, where he was placed on life support. Tragically, just three days later, the child was removed from life support and died.

An autopsy was later conducted by the Morris County medical examiner and a forensic neuropathologist, with the medical examiners determining that the victim died due blunt force trauma.

Shortly after the victim died, the suspect was officially charged with murder. He had already been charged with a number of other crimes, including aggravated assault (on both the mother and the child), child endangerment, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon, and hindering apprehension.

Now the suspect will likely have to answer the charges in court after a Morris County grand jury issued an indictment against him on the criminal homicide charges.

Moreover, the grand jury voted in favor of two aggravating factors in the case, meaning that the suspect faces life imprisonment in NJ State Prison, with no chance of parole, if he is ultimately convicted.

Morris County prosecutors have said that they expect to offer the suspect a plea deal calling for him to serve 30 years in state prison.

At this time, the suspect is being held at the Morris County Correctional Facility in Morristown on a massive bail amount of $1 million.

For more information about this case, read the DailyRecord.com article, “Montville Motel Tenant Arraigned on Toddler’s Murder.”