Criminal restraint, as written in the New Jersey criminal code, is charged when a person uses force to prohibit another person from departing a precise location or a possibly dangerous situation with risk of bodily injury. Criminal restraint charges can also be filed in cases of domestic violence. Preventing a spouse or partner from leaving on their own volition by threatening harm is against the law. New Jersey takes this charge very seriously, and the penalties for criminal restraint can be grim.

Kidnapping, criminal restraint, and false imprisonment are often mislabeled. Kidnapping involves the physical removal of a person from one place to another against their will to facilitate a crime, inflict bodily injury, terrorize the victim, alter the actions of governmental or political action, or prevent a parent or guardian access to a minor. Kidnapping is a first-degree felony. False imprisonment is similar to criminal restraint but without the threat of harm. It is a disorderly persons offense.

Two Paths to Commit Criminal Restraint

There are two ways to commit criminal restraint. The first is if the defendant knowingly and unlawfully restrains the victim and illegally exposes them to danger, violence, or harm. The second is to hold the victim in a condition of involuntary servitude.

Necessary Requirements to Prove Criminal Restraint in NJ

Several elements must be present for the charge of criminal restraint to be applied. First, the defendant had to have acted knowingly, meaning they were aware of the possible consequences of their actions on the victim. This state of mind is known as mens rea, the Latin term for the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime.

The defendant’s actions must be unlawful. The forcible restraining of the victim is accomplished by lying to manipulate the victim, physically forcing them to stay, or threatening them into compliance. Actual physical violence isn’t always needed to convince the victim they were unable to leave. The RISK of death, disfigurement, or serious bodily injury, without the manifestation of violence, is still considered criminal restraint. Additionally, violence that is used to restrain the victim continually is part of this law. Holding a person in involuntary servitude means the victim is detained by force, intimidation, imprisonment, or other means against their will.

The prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt: the defendant knew what they were doing was a crime and that restraining the victim and exposing them to serious harm was also a condition of involuntary servitude.

An Example of Criminal Restraint from a Real-Life Scenario

Let’s look at this example that breaks down the components of this law:  Gunther and his wife, Hannah, have been married for 11 years. Recently, Gunther lost his job and became despondent. One evening, Hannah chose to go out with some coworkers, and when she arrived home, Gunther was less than cordial. An argument ensued, and Gunther made it very clear that he was armed and had no intention of letting Hannah out of the house, not then, not ever. Hannah spent the weekend locked in the guest room. Gunther brought her food and drinks but would not let her leave and assured her that any attempt to flee would result in her demise. By Wednesday, family and friends who had been unable to speak with her decided to get the police involved for a wellness check. They were able to diffuse the situation and took Gunther into custody.

Analysis:  Gunther knew he was restraining Hannah, that the restraint was unlawful, and his actions were illegal, so the “knowingly” part of the offense is covered. Hannah was forced to stay in the guest room/in their house, so her liberty was interfered with. Also, Gunther had a weapon and threatened to use it, which is a risk of bodily injury.

Grave Consequences For Criminal Restraint in NJ

Criminal restraint is a third-degree felony with a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $15,000. It is rarely the only charge in those circumstances. Assault, domestic violence, weapons charges, and others are commonly seen with criminal restraint charges.

Criminal Restraint and the Requirements for NJ Pretrial Intervention Program

New Jersey allows individuals with no prior indictable offense convictions or failed attempts to complete the PTI program to have their charges dismissed upon completion. If the individual violates the program’s rules or does not complete the required activities, such as classes and community service, the charges will be sought again. However, domestic violence offenses are presumably considered ineligible for Pre-Trial Intervention, so if a criminal restraint charge is filed in a domestic violence case, this changes things substantially. There are exceptions that can be made but this undoubtedly requires assistance from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Preventing a Conviction for Criminal Restraint in New Jersey

Weak witness testimony filled with few details, conflicting statements, and sweeping generalizations don’t go very far in a criminal court. If the prosecutor cannot rely on the victim to give a clear account of the events, there will likely be no conviction.

Criminal restraint charges cannot hold up against the parents or guardians of minors when the purpose is only to get control of the child. However, if the prosecution presents evidence of an event- or series of events- that within a custody or visitation dispute indicates one parent refusing to allow the other their legal parenting time, the “controlling the child” defense is useless.

Criminal Restraint as a Basis for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

As in the prior example, domestic violence cases frequently coincide with criminal restraint charges. Restraining orders can be filed against a spouse, significant other, an ex, or family member. A Temporary Restraining Order is granted almost immediately. The main condition of the TRO is that the defendant does not contact the complainant by phone, text, email, letter, or through a third party. After 10 days, a hearing will decide if the order will become permanent. At this hearing, both sides can bring witnesses to testify on their behalf.

If the defendant and the plaintiff reside in the same place, police will escort the defendant out of the home. The defendant is prohibited from going to the plaintiff’s place of employment, school, gym, friends’ homes if the plaintiff is there, or any public place that would go against the required distance between them as is stipulated in the order.

Distinguishing Between Restraining Orders and Criminal Proceedings on the Basis of Criminal Restraint in NJ

Restraining Orders are decided in Family Superior Court. The Temporary Restraining Order is issued for 10 days while the Final Restraining Order does not have an end date. To obtain an order, there must be proof of imminent danger. Criminal Proceedings occur in Superior Court if it is an indictable offense or Municipal Court if it is a disorderly person offense.

Disregarding a restraining order is considered contempt of court, and contrary to popular belief, you can go to jail for ignoring the order. Criminal proceedings are charges against the defendant because they have broken the law. The relationship between a restraining order violation and a felony charge for a violent crime is that the sentence determined for the criminal conviction may be longer than the suggested minimum due to the circumstances regarding the restraining order when the victim(s) of both are involved.

Our Dedicated Attorneys are Here to Defend Your Case if You Have Been Accused of Criminal Restraint in Morris County, NJ

If you or someone you know is facing criminal restraint charges, legal representation is of the utmost importance. A felony conviction can be detrimental to you in many ways: obtaining a loan, background checks for apartments, and certain professions such as teaching, law enforcement, or government jobs, and others.

Our practiced attorneys have a deep desire for justice and while we know that your case is unique, previous experience has shown us that it is attention to detail and the careful consideration of all of the facts of a case that can build your defense. We advocate for clients in Parsippany, Morristown, Florham Park, Denville, Randolph, Mount Olive, Madison, and other towns in the Morris County area.

If you would like to talk with us now, call 973-524-7238 or contact us online for an absolutely free consultation.

If you or someone you know are facing a charge in New Jersey for a domestic violence offense and are awaiting a detention hearing, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. The purpose of detention in the criminal justice process is mainly to ensure the safety of victims and the community at large. Comprehensive New Jersey bail reform, The New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act, was enacted in 2017 and it made significant changes to how detention of criminal defendants is handled in all criminal cases, including domestic violence cases, in New Jersey. The reform moved New Jersey’s pretrial detention system away from a monetary-based bail system into a risk-based assessment to reform the discriminatory effects of the old system on low-income defendants.

Within New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, certain offenses are considered acts of domestic violence when they are committed in the context of a relationship covered by the Act. These offenses include, but are not limited to, sexual assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, and criminal restraint. New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Act includes a mandatory arrest provision and, accordingly, all domestic violence cases, including simple assault or violation of a restraining order, require a detention hearing.

Step by Step After Being Arrested or Charged with Domestic Violence in NJ

When you are arrested for a domestic violence offense, you must be aware that you have certain constitutional rights, including your right to remain silent, that anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law, that you have the right to an attorney and, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.

Then, a set of procedural steps will begin, starting with the booking process. The police will collect some biographical information for identification purposes, including your full legal name, any aliases, date of birth, and address. The police will take your driver’s license and/or any other identifying information you may have on you, along with any other personal items in your possession. The booking process will also include taking your fingerprints and photo. You will be held in a holding cell until your detention hearing, which may be up to 48 hours after your arrest. During this time, you may meet with your attorney.

A Public Safety Assessment (PSA) will be conducted before your detention hearing, which will grade your likelihood of having certain risk factors for release. The PSA serves as an important tool for the judge when assessing whether a condition or set of conditions on your release could reasonably assure that you will not be a flight risk, danger to others, or attempt to obstruct justice. Your attorney will want to review this assessment to prepare for your detention hearing.

Weighing the Relevant Factors at a Domestic Violence Detention Hearing

In making his or her determination, the judge will consider the alleged facts surrounding your current criminal charges, your criminal history, whether your offense was violent in nature, your age, and ties to the community (including employment, home ownership, children, and other factors), any past violations of no-contact orders, past probation violations, and any prior failures to appear in court.

After reviewing your PSA and considering all of these factors, including your defense and arguments against detainment, the judge will determine whether you will be released pending trial and, if so, with what conditions, if any.

Pre-Trial Release Conditions and Options for Domestic Violence Defendants

At your detention hearing, the judge will determine if you should be detained while pending trial or if you can be released with or without conditions. These conditions may include restraining orders to present contact with victims, monitoring alcohol or drug use, not committing another offense during the release period, not contacting any witnesses about the offense, complying with a curfew, refraining from possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, and even house arrest.

One condition of your release could be house arrest pending trial, in which you may be released from police custody, but you will be prohibited from leaving your home, and your location will be tracked with a GPS device, usually in the form of an ankle monitoring device. This device will immediately notify law enforcement if you leave your home without authorization, and if you do, you will almost certainly be ordered to be detained pending trial. House arrest in domestic violence cases cannot, of course, occur in the home of the victim and will usually include a no-contact order with the victim.

Our Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Fight for Your Release at a Detention Hearing

At your detention hearing, you have a right to present your defense. The prosecution has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that you should be detained because, for most offenses, there is a presumption of release. The only exception to this is if you are charged with murder or an offense that carries the potential of a life sentence, in which case there is a presumption against your release. 

For most offenses, if your attorney can argue to the judge’s satisfaction that a certain condition or set of conditions provide reasonable assurance that you will not be a flight risk, threat to the safety of the victim in the case and anyone else, or try to obstruct the criminal justice policy, then the judge must order you to be released, pursuant to any necessary conditions, while awaiting trial.

Individuals who remain detained pending trial tend to receive harsher sentences if convicted. If you or someone you love are facing domestic violence charges in Parsippany, Chatham, Randolph, Denville, Florham Park, and other towns around the Morris County area, do not wait until after a detention hearing to contact a New Jersey domestic violence defense attorney. Having an advocate by your side at your detention hearing is incredibly important, and we are prepared to fight for your release during these proceedings. Contact 973-524-7238 to talk to a criminal defense attorney regarding your case.

Internet sex crimes are almost always considered felonies in the state of New Jersey and may even be tried as federal offenses. If you have been charged with an internet sex crime, you need the legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help fight for your rights. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation today, and find out how the New Jersey criminal justice system awards steep sentences for internet sex offenses.

Actions Classified As Internet Sex Crimes in The State of New Jersey

A cyber sex crime blends the two illegal activities of cyber crimes and sex crimes. A cybercrime is an illegal act of a criminal nature carried out using the internet. A sex crime is an illegal offense that carries a sexual component. As such, cybersex crimes are sex crimes utilizing the internet. There are many different variations of cybersex crimes that may lead to serious felony charges in New Jersey.

Various Forms of Sexual Offenses Committed Over the Internet

There are two prevalent types of internet sex crimes, each of which has multiple components: child pornography and cyber harassment.

Child Pornography

This type of activity is very grave and carries serious criminal consequences. Child pornography charges are separated into varying degrees of severity based on their nature, including possession, distribution, and production. When child pornography includes internet distribution, it often becomes a federal matter when it is distributed across state lines; as such, the charges mount, and penalties become more severe. Involving a child in production of sexually pornographic material is considered endangering the welfare of a child and carries a second degree felony offense; this severity is heightened when the child’s own guardian is responsible for this child endangerment, at which point the charge is elevated to a first degree felony, the most severe level that exists in the New Jersey criminal justice system.

Attempting to use the internet to lure a child into participating in sexual behavior is also a related internet sex crime.

Cyber Sexual Harassment

This illegal activity involves the sending of communication or material of a sexual nature to someone without their permission and with the intent to cause them emotional harm. This material could be sent directly to them or about them, as in the case with revenge porn, in which sexually explicit material involving them is more widely distributed without their consent. Cyber sexual harassment could include a separate charge, invasion of privacy, when a person is recorded in a sexually compromising position or act without their permission.

Severe Legal Consequences for Cyber Sex Crimes in NJ

Child pornography charges are very serious; carrying third, second, or first-degree felonies varies based on the specific charge: possession, distribution, or production. First-time possession of child pornography usually carries a third degree felony charge that could result in a three-to-five year sentence and fines of up to $15,000. Distribution is typically graded as a second degree offense carrying a five-to-ten year sentence and fines of up to $150,000. Production of child pornography and child endangerment are first degree felonies that could result in up to 20 years in prison and $200,000 in fines when the defendant is responsible for the care of the child involved.

Cyber sexual harassment charges carry serious penalties and vary based on the activity’s nature. Usually, they carry fourth or third degree charges that result in up to 18 months and five years of prison time and up to $10,000 or $15,000 in fines, respectively.

Potential Secondary Effects of Internet Sex Crimes in NJ

In addition to facing prison time and exorbitant fines as a result of cybersex crimes, there are collateral consequences. Most often, those who commit sex crimes or internet sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders under Megan’s Law. Additionally, being a registered sex offender could have adverse consequences for your professional and personal life moving forward, and failure to register under Megan’s Law comes with its own charges and penalties.

Internet Sex Crimes Lawyer Advocating for Clients in Morris County, New Jersey

If you have been charged with an internet sex crime, the most important thing to do is immediately call an experienced criminal defense attorney and refuse to speak to investigators or anyone else until you have your attorney present. A skilled defense team will help you build a strong case and prevent you from further incriminating yourself. Our team is well-versed in defending our clients’ rights in Florham Park, Denville, Mount Arlington, Butler, Riverdale, East Hanover, and neighboring towns across New Jersey in their defense needs, including internet sex crimes. Contact our team without hesitation at 973-524-7238 or use the online contact option to set up a confidential and free consultation to discuss your charge.

Certain New Jersey citizens are entitled to apply for certain firearm permits. Because the reality of owning a gun is a serious matter and responsibility, there are strict guidelines for who can own and carry a gun and under what circumstances. If you have had your gun permit application denied, you need the help of a firearms law attorney to build a strong case for your appeal. Contact 973-524-7238 to discuss your application and get a free consultation about filing an appeal, and read on to learn more about the specifics of appealing a gun permit denial in New Jersey.

Gun Permit Applications Eligible for Appeal in NJ

New Jersey has multiple types of gun licenses and permits for different uses; there is no ‘one size fits all’ gun permit. Denied gun permit applications for firearms purchaser identification cards, permits to purchase handguns, and handgun carry permits can all be appealed.

What Are Possible Justifications for Someone to be Denied a New Jersey Gun Permit?

The qualifications for obtaining a gun permit are quite strict and, in some ways, up to the discretion of the law enforcement agency which issues the permit. For example, a person could be denied a gun permit due to prior criminal convictions and a criminal record. Additionally, someone who has a history of substance abuse, including alcohol or drugs, may very well be denied a gun permit. A person who has a restraining order filed against them can have their application denied. And a gun permit may also be denied to someone with physical or mental limitations that it is deemed could impair their capacity to safely operate a firearm; in this case, it is up to the individual to prove through an appeal that they can safely operate a gun. It is even in the awarding agency’s purview to deny a person a gun permit because it is deemed that it would not be in society’s best or safest interest for the person to have legal access to a firearm.

Who is Responsible for Hearing the Appeal of a Firearm Permit Application Denial in NJ?

While original gun permit applications are overseen by the local police department, appeals to a denial decision are handled by the Superior Court in the county in which the permit application was originally filed.

How to Appeal a Denial of a Gun Permit in New Jersey

A denied gun permit application can be appealed within thirty days of the date the original application was denied. The appeal is served to the Superior Court in the county in which the permit application was originally submitted. A notice of appeal must be provided to the law enforcement agency that denied the original application. Because the burden of proving appeal legitimacy lies with the applicant, it is important that an appeal of a rejected firearms permit application is handled by an experienced gun permit lawyer.

Is Anyone Entitled to Appeal the Denial of a Gun Permit in NJ?

Those who have been denied a gun permit have the right to appeal the decision. However, some denials are straightforward, and as such an appeal does not make sense, such as the case of an individual who has been convicted of a felony. While it is wise to discuss your individual case with a gun permit attorney, you may be advised against appeal if you are legally ineligible or unlikely to prevail in appealing the decision. However, there are many gun permit denials that can be successfully appealed with a comprehensive, compelling argument and supportive evidence that your attorney can assemble and present on your behalf.

Seek the Advice of an Experienced Gun Attorney for Help Appealing a Gun Permit Denial

The Superior Court will err on the side of hyper-vigilance and public safety when it comes to gun permit appeals, so having a rock solid case for your application being approved is invaluable in these situations. Because our lawyers understand the system and the specifics of the denial and appeal process, we are highly qualified and prepared to handle the gun permit appeal that you may need to file anywhere in New Jersey.

Our team of experienced attorneys has helped our clients in Morristown, Harding, Randolph, Rockaway, Chatham, Parsippany, Morris County and elsewhere in New Jersey to appeal various types of gun permit denials. Contact us at 973-524-7238 to find out more about appealing your rejected firearm license and move forward with your appeal today.

The Fourth Amendment protects people’s fundamental right to be free from unnecessary governmental intrusion into private spaces. The state may not conduct unreasonable searches of people’s homes, cars, or businesses and seize personal property without probable cause or a warrant. What is unreasonable is the subject of case law since the country’s inception. In a recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, State vs. Williams, the Court determined when police investigations should end after a motor data terminal (MDT) identifies the vehicle owner’s revoked driver’s license, but the vehicle driver is not the owner.

A Deeper Look into the State vs. Williams Case

In Williams, the Supreme Court crafted a rule for police officers making MDT stops only to find the vehicle driver is not the registered owner. The police officers, in this case, ran an MDT on the Nissan Williams drove. Williams had not violated any traffic laws. However, the officers found the vehicle registered to someone with a revoked license. The owner was a female, but when the officers pulled Williams over, they found two males in the car. Nevertheless, Officer Kless asked for Williams’ license, insurance, and registration.

At the trial, Officer Kless testified that he smelled marijuana after approaching the vehicle’s passenger side, though admittedly through a stuffed nose. The officers at the scene had Williams and his codefendant step out of the car while they called for backup with a dog sniffer that identified marijuana in the vehicle. They also found a firearm in the car. The officers performed a pat down search and arrested both. Williams fled, but the officers caught him and arrested him.

Throughout the detention, Williams protested that the officers had no consent from the owner to search the vehicle. The officers replied that they didn’t need one. At the trial, the defendants’ lawyers moved to suppress evidence obtained from the search, but the judge denied the motion. The defendants faced unlawful possession of weapons charges, and the jury convicted them.

The defendants filed an appeal based on the suppression motion denial, an erroneous gun possession jury instruction, and the police cam video introduction to the jury that heard the defendant’s complaints about the search. The defense’s central claim was that the police violated their Fourth Amendment rights by unreasonably prolonging the stop. The state responded that the officers could continue the stop to examine the driver’s documents.

The NJ Supreme Court’s Decision on Stopping Vehicles and Investigating Drivers after License Checks

The appellate Court confirmed the trial court ruling and the jury verdict, but the Supreme Court of New Jersey disagreed. The Court first examined case law on the legality of stopping a vehicle based on an MDT. It ruled that stopping a car based on an MDT turning up a suspended or revoked license is enough reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. However, once an officer sees that the vehicle occupant or occupants do not fit the description of the one with the revoked or suspended license, they must refrain from further investigation and let the driver go.

The Court considered that officers only sometimes have a clear view of a driver in the dark or in conditions that make identification possible. In those cases, the Court ruled that a case-by-case consideration was necessary. But when it is evident that the registered owner and the vehicle driver or passenger are not the same people, they must discontinue the detention.

Discovering Evidence and Lawfully Detaining Individuals during MDT Checks

The Court noted that there might be instances when an officer detains a vehicle after an MDT check raises a reasonable suspicion of a possible driver without a valid license, and in the course of the stop, the officer discovers evidence of another crime underway, like a gun, or smell of alcohol, or drugs in plain view. Law enforcement is not obliged to ignore the evidence but can further detain the occupants to conduct a reasonable investigation for a reasonable period of time.

What the police cannot do is continue investigating when there is no reasonable suspicion of a crime. The Court determined that Officer Klee’s testimony that he smelled marijuana, even when another officer said he did not, was insufficient evidence to raise a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify further detention or a search and seizure. But first, the Court validated the legality of an MDT stop.

Getting Perspective from Previous Cases

The Court first weighed the state’s legitimate interest in keeping roadways safe by checking for licensed drivers, against the unreasonable intrusion into an individual’s privacy. The Court in Delaware v. Prouse required an officer’s reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing to make a discretionary stop, meaning one where a traffic violation or other evidence of unlawful behavior did not justify pursuit. And yet, Glover vs. Kansas gave officers reasonable suspicion grounds to stop a vehicle with a driver suspected of driving on a suspended license. In other words, officers could assume the driver was the vehicle owner that they searched in the revoked or suspended license database.

The Court’s discussion about a revoked license in Kansas supports law enforcement’s reasonable suspicion for a stop. An officer rightly assumes that a driver who drives on a suspended or revoked license disregards the law and, thus, is breaking the law by driving with a revoked license at the time of the detention. Statistics show that drivers still drive on suspended or revoked licenses, supporting the assumption that a driver could be the registered owner on the road illegally.

However, Justice Kagan in Glover noted that the analysis would be different if the officers found a license suspension or revocation from another state that suspended licenses for reasons unrelated to driving laws, such as parking tickets, child support, and court fees. Kansas saved revocation for serious offenses but suspensions for matters unrelated to motor vehicle laws. New Jersey does not distinguish between revocation and suspension, so either could be for non-serious or severe offenses.

The Glover court noted that the outcome (the prolonged MDT stop and arrest was warranted) would be different if the officers could clearly see that the driver and owner were not the same by clear objective evidence of age, gender, race, etc. The Court then announced the rule for officers in conducting a stop based on an MDT and its limitations. The Court reversed the appellate court decision, ruling the suppression motion should have been granted, but denied the jury instruction and cam recorder introduction objections. The case was remanded to the trial court.

When Should the Inspection Proceed or Stop Based on a Revoked License in NJ?

The new rule for officers pursuing revoked or suspended license drivers from computer-based searches is that an initial stop based on the MDT search is reasonable and authorized. However, once an officer sees that the driver could not reasonably be the vehicle owner by the photo and description in the computer as compared to the driver’s license and appearance, the detention must cease. They must not linger, ask for documents, or stay there to examine them. However, while the stop is legal, meaning the time for the officer to look at the driver and see that the driver is not the owner, an officer may detain the driver for a reasonable time to investigate plain view criminal evidence.

The Fourth Amendment and Your Rights Regarding Stop and Search

The Court essentially defended the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights to be free of government intrusion, which occurs once the officers have no reason to continue a stop. Law enforcement cannot detain someone without a reasonable suspicion of a legal violation. They cannot wait around until they find evidence. That would be an unreasonable search and seizure. Thus, defendants in New Jersey must be aware that they can be stopped legally by an MDT search of a suspended or revoked license. However, once the officer determines that the driver is not the owner, they must let the driver go in the absence of other evidence of violations.

Talk to an Experienced Criminal Attorney if You Have been Charged after a License Suspension Check in New Jersey

Many criminal defenses rest on police pushing the limits or misinterpreting the limits of a police detention, search, and seizure. For this reason, a criminal defense attorney must examine the facts and evidence after their client’s arrest. Fourth Amendment violations occur all too often, and a motion to suppress keeps illegally obtained evidence implicating a defendant from reaching a jury. Our job as criminal defense lawyers is to ensure that our clients get fair trials, to protect the rights they are due under the constitution, and to ensure that the prosecution’s case does not hinge on evidence arising from illegal state activity. Contact 973-524-7238 to talk to a criminal defense attorney after an MDT-based stop and arrest on New Jersey roadways. We represent clients in Dover, Mount Olive, Morristown, East Hanover, Denville, Chatham, Madison, and other towns in the Morris County area.

In New Jersey, domestic violence is a term that describes a pattern of physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse committed against a spouse, ex-spouse, partner, date, or parent of the victim’s child, family, or household member. In many domestic violence cases, a victim reports the alleged abuser’s use or possession of a firearm. In some cases, the accused uses a gun to commit an act of domestic violence as defined by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, such as burglary or assault. In other cases, the alleged victim may express fear of their alleged abuser’s ownership of guns. Domestic violence and gun ownership may lead to multiple legal violations and criminal charges that define domestic violence or are incident to it.

All About the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (PDVA), outlined in New Jersey statute 2C:25-19, defines domestic violence as committing one of 19 offenses upon a person who is involved with the accused or has been in a relationship with them. Those offenses include assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, criminal mischief, burglary, robbery, criminal trespass, stalking, harassment, sexual assault, lewdness, criminal sexual contact, cyber harassment, criminal coercion, homicide, contempt for violating a restraining order, and other crimes that place another’s life at risk of death or serious injury. A person may commit any one of the listed offenses with a firearm.

Consequences of Domestic Disputes Involving Weapons

So, when a heated argument erupts between spouses and one pulls out a gun to threaten the other against walking out on them, they may be guilty of several crimes under the PDVA, namely, assault, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, or terroristic threats. Just pointing the gun may be assault. In such a scenario, the spouse threatening and confining the other commits the underlying offense of domestic violence that may justify a restraining order by the threatened and confined spouse. But that depends on the couple’s history of violence and the evidence to prove that the alleged victim’s health and safety are at risk.

Permanent Restraining Orders Require Surrendering Firearms

Should the threatened spouse successfully obtain a final restraining order, the defendant spouse must surrender their firearms to the police. Anyone subject to a domestic violence restraining order may not buy or possess a gun. Whether a criminal court has yet to convict the restrained spouse on the criminal offenses or the restrained spouse’s conviction is only a disorderly persons offense, they must surrender their firearms. And once the court convicts a defendant of a domestic violence crime, the defendant must surrender their guns, FPIC, and permits to law enforcement.

Firearms Confiscated at Incidents of Domestic Violence

Even if law enforcement suspects domestic violence, they may confiscate firearms. For example, when the police arrive at a scene of domestic violence, they must seize firearms they see at the location if they believe domestic violence occurred and any Firearms Purchasing Identification Card (FPIC) or permit to buy a handgun. From there, the prosecutor has 45 days to petition the court for a hearing on the issue of whether the gun should be kept or returned to the accused. If the prosecutor presents evidence that the gun owner is guilty of domestic violence, domestic violence continues, or the gun owner is ineligible to own a gun, a judge can order the surrender of the weapon in question and all the accused’s guns to the police.

Navigating the Complexities of Guns in Domestic Violence Cases

Firearms in the domestic violence arena can lead to a complex web of legal problems. Thus, when law enforcement seizes guns from an accused domestic violence perpetrator or the alleged victim gets a restraining order, the legal ownership of the firearm or firearms comes into question. An individual who does not have a handgun permit or may not legally own or possess a gun faces additional criminal charges besides domestic violence offenses. While the superior court’s family division handles domestic violence actions and restraining orders, the superior court’s criminal division handles the crimes underlying the domestic violence action and any other crimes collateral to the domestic violence, including unlawful gun possession.

Gun Ownership Regulations for Domestic Violence Offenders in NJ

New Jersey law forbids anyone from getting a handgun permit or FPIC when they have a history of criminal convictions or offenses involving domestic violence. New Jersey statute 2C:39-7 also makes it a crime for certain persons to have weapons. Thus, those convicted of aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, arson, bias intimidation, burglary, endangering child welfare, escape, extortion, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, or stalking may not have weapons, including firearms.

Other disqualifiers of firearm ownership to “certain persons” include being the subject of a domestic violence restraining order or firearm seizure under the PDVA; unlawful possession, distribution, or use of a controlled dangerous substance; and those with a history of confinement due to a mental disorder, unless evidence of recovery from a mental disorder satisfies a court that the individual is safe to handle a firearm. Getting caught falsifying a gun permit or FIPC, or having a juvenile record for certain offenses, being on a terrorist watchlist, committing a crime against a judicial officer, or qualifying as a public safety risk with a firearm disqualifies someone from gun ownership and possession also.

Possible Penalties for Firearm Possession Involving Domestic Violence

If convicted for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, a certain persons offense, a defendant in possession of a firearm faces a third-degree crime if they have a prior conviction of a disorderly persons offense involving domestic violence. And any person subject to a restraining order or convicted of a domestic violence offense who possesses a firearm is also guilty of a third-degree crime. Another third-degree crime occurs when an individual has a firearm after having their weapons seized pursuant to the PDVA. Third-degree criminal convictions come with maximum prison sentence of five years and a $15,000.00 fine.

However, anyone who commits a crime qualifying as domestic violence under the PDVA while possessing a gun, whether legally or illegally, may face charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. It is a second-degree crime to commit or attempt to commit a domestic violence crime while possessing a firearm, such as aggravated assault, burglary, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, terroristic threats, stalking, and domestic violence crimes. If convicted, the defendant faces five to ten years in state prison and up to $150, 000.00 in fines.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Handling Domestic Violence, Weapons Offenses, and Restraining Orders in New Jersey

Using or having a gun while committing an act of domestic violence often leads to multiple charges. And since gun crimes are subject to the Graves Act, a defendant will serve a mandatory one-third to one-half of their sentence without parole eligibility. Given the severity of the consequences, an accused needs experienced legal counsel to help them successfully contest the charges and any related proceedings, such as a restraining order case. If you face gun charges in a domestic violence situation, a restraining order, a certain persons offense, weapons forfeiture proceedings, or another case involving the intersection of domestic violence and weapons, contact 973-524-7238 to speak with an attorney who can assist you immediately. We serve clients in Florham Park, Chatham, Parsippany, Denville, Morristown, Madison, Morris County and across New Jersey.

There are Specific Requirements for Buying and Possessing Assault Weapons in NJ, as Well as Severe Consequences for Unlawful Possession.

New Jersey has strict laws regarding firearms. In order to own a firearm, you must go through an application process discussed later in this article.  It is illegal to purchase or own an assault weapon unless you have a specific permit. The terms assault rifle/pistol category refers to firearms that can be fired in bursts or completely automatically (as long as the trigger is pressed, the weapon will continue firing).

Main Features of An Assault Rifle in NJ

A semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and any two features listed is considered an assault rifle.  Those features are a grenade launcher, bayonet mount, a pistol grip that sticks out under the weapon’s action, a flash suppressor, or a folding or telescoping stock. Also, it should have a range of 300 meters.

Distinctive Characteristics of an Assault Firearm

A semi-automatic pistol that has a detachable magazine and at least two of these features:  an ammunition magazine that attaches outside of the pistol grip, a threaded barrel designed for an extender, a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer, a weight of 50 ounces or more, and a shroud that allows the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without getting burned, and an automatic firearm that has been converted to a semi-automatic.

Examples of Firearms Categorized as Assault Weapons

Examples of assault weapons are Weaver Arms Nighthawk, Sterling MK-6, MK-7, SAR, PJK M-68 carbine type, Colt AR-15 and CAR-15 series, Bushmaster Assault Rifle, Armalite AR-180, CETME 63, and G35A. 

What Do I Need to Purchase or Possess an Assault Weapon in NJ?

If you want to purchase a firearm, you need an FPIC (Firearms Purchaser Identification Card).  If you want to purchase a handgun, you need a handgun purchaser permit and are allowed only one gun per permit.  If you want to carry your handgun, you must get a permit, which must be renewed every two years. You can also apply for an FPIC (Firearms Purchaser Identification Card), which allows unlimited shotgun and rifle purchases.

To begin the process, it is necessary to inform your local police department and obtain an Originating Agency Identification Number (AGI). The AGI is crucial, as an incorrect or missing number will result in an immediate denial of your application.  It is a sort of routing number assigned to each applicant. Following this, you will need to complete the Firearms Application and Registration System (FARS). The application requires you to provide various details, including your physical characteristics (such as height, weight, hair, and eye color), address, criminal history (including any involvement in domestic violence), and information regarding any mental illnesses that have led to your being hospitalized for conditions such as severe depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Additionally, you will be asked about substance abuse problems and need to disavow any interest in organizations seeking to overthrow the government. Several references, excluding relatives, must be provided, and you will also be required to undergo fingerprinting. You must also complete gun training, how to handle firearms safely, and target training.

To possess an assault weapon legally in New Jersey you must have a license for the assault weapon. This is not a standard handgun permit; you will also need a permit for an assault weapon, which is rarely issued in New Jersey except in very specific situations. To get a special permit for assault weapons, you must fill out an application with the county superior court, where the court determines if you are qualified.  The license has a two-year limit.

Steps to Register Assault Weapons in NJ

To register an assault weapon, you must apply for a license in the county where you live in the Superior Court, giving the reasons why you need a license.  The Court will give the application to the county prosecutor, who will conduct an investigation.  If the prosecutor does not find cause to deny the application, it will be sent to the chief police officer in the municipalities where the applicant intends to carry the assault firearm. You will not be granted a license if you do not qualify for a handgun permit.  If you are given a license, it must be renewed every year through the same process.

Regulations on the Possession and Transfer of Assault Weapons upon the Owner’s Death

According to N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.13, a permit to purchase a handgun or an FPIC is not required to receive a firearm as an heir or legatee.  The firearm may be kept permanently if the recipient meets the requirements for a permit.  If the recipient is not qualified, there is a 180-day period that can be used to sell the weapon.  If an extension of time is needed, the weapon can be placed in the custody of the chief of police or Superintendent while a buyer is found.

Legal Consequences For Unlawful Possession of Assault Firearms in NJ

The type of weapon possessed plays a crucial role in determining the degree of the offense. It also affects the application of mandatory sentencing guidelines, such as those outlined in the New Jersey Graves Act, that pertains to various firearms offenses. Usually, the deadlier a weapon can be, the more severe the penalties given.  That is to say, if you walked into a store with a weapon that is not a gun, you may be charged with a fourth degree crime, while if you came in with a handgun, you are facing second degree charges instead.

Charges for unlawful possession of assault weapons are considered second degree offenses, resulting in a five-to-ten-year sentence and a fine of up to $150,000.  There is a presumption of incarceration and due to the Graves Act, a mandatory minimum of 42 months, or one-half to one-third of your sentence, whichever is greater, that must be served before you are eligible for parole.

An Assault Firearm Defense Attorney in Morris County can Assist You

Weapons charges are a serious matter.  You need an attorney who knows the gun laws and can offer stellar representation.  Being proactive and getting an early start on preparing your case is to your advantage. Our attorneys are skilled, knowledgeable, and committed to building the best defense possible for your assault firearms charges.  We will explain step by step how we will use time-tested strategies to zealously defend you against assault weapons possession charges in East Hanover, Dover, Chatham, Parsippany, Morristown, Denville, Rockaway, and across Morris County and New Jersey.  If you need legal representation in this matter, call us today at 973-524-7238.

You are Exposed to Serious Repercussions for Drugged Driving in NJ, as Penalties are Distinct from Drunk Driving

If you turn on the local news for five minutes or visit any local news website, you would not be hard-pressed to see that drugs are taking over the minds and bodies of all those around us. There have been very serious accidents that have been the result of drivers under the influence of serious and dangerous drugs. These drugs have been both prescribed and obtained illegally. It is important to note that it does not matter how legal the drugs are; what matters is if you were under the influence of these drugs while you were driving a vehicle.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs versus Alcohol Consumption for DWI in NJ

Under New Jersey state law, there is no difference in the statute that you are charged with if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs versus alcohol. However, the penalties of such are greatly affected, and the consequences can be different as well. For example, 39:4-50 relies heavily on the Blood Alcohol Content of the driver in terms of sentencing, however, with drugs, obviously there is not a BAC level to refer to. Therefore, sentencing may depend upon other factors that your attorney can coach you on.

What Substances Can Lead to a New Jersey Drug DUI Offense?

Driving Under the Influence can arise from driving under the influence of illicit substances such as heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and hallucinogens such as acid, mushrooms and/or PCP. People typically take these drugs not realizing that they will be driving later on. Regardless of the reason, if you drive under the influence of a controlled and dangerous substance, you are liable to cause a lot of damage.

Oftentimes, people drive while under the influence of prescription drugs that they have obtained completely legally. It does not matter how you obtained the drugs, what matters is that you drove under the influence of a mood and/or mind altering drug. You will be charged either way.

Consequences for First, Second, Third Offenses in DUI on Drugs Cases in New Jersey

Driving under the influence of drugs can still result in a loss of license, even though no alcohol was involved and your blood alcohol content cannot be ascertained. Specifically, driving under the influence of CDS can lead to losing your driving privileges for seven to twelve months for a first offense if you are convicted.

For a first offense the accused faces fines between $300 and $500 thirty days incarceration, attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center between 12 and 48 hours, as well as a $230 IDRC fee. They also pay $100 to Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund, $100 to the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund, $75 to the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund, $50 to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board, as well as $1,000 motor vehicle surcharge fee for three years. You may also face license suspension from 7 months to one year and up to 30 days in jail.

For a second offense within 10 years of the first offense, fines jump up to between $500 and $1000, 2 year loss of license, 30 days community service, 48 hours in jail (or in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center), no more than 90 days in jail, as well as an ignition interlock device to be installed and used for one to three years.

A third offense is a $1,000 fine, 10-year loss of license and 180 days in jail. Half of the jail sentence may be spent in an inpatient facility as long as it is approved by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.

How are Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Charges Proven in New Jersey?

Typically, state cases for driving under the influence are proven through circumstantial evidence. This is usually the case for driving while intoxicated cases in which the driver was inebriated. The state will try to introduce evidence that shows the driving patterns of the driver before they were pulled over, they will try to show the behavior of the driver (possibly through dash cam footage or body cam footage), and they may try to introduce evidence such as field sobriety tests.

It’s important to remember that the police may also administer a blood test and/or a urine test, that you are unable to refuse given that there is sufficient probable cause. If you do refuse to submit to a blood and/or urine test, then you face another charge with severe consequences if you are convicted.

Another tool in the arsenal of many police stations throughout New Jersey is that they use Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). These police officer are specially-qualified to respond to a scene of suspected driving under the influence of drugs and administer several tests in order to ascertain if the driver was under the influence while they were driving and what drug they were possibly using before they drove.

Get Help with DUI vs. DWI in NJ

There are many reasons to hire a solid New Jersey DUI defense lawyer, the first being that the experience of your attorney will prove invaluable when attempting to circumvent the life-altering consequences of the charges against you. Since these cases are proven largely on circumstantial evidence, witness testimony, expert testimony, etc., an experienced lawyer can attack every minute aspect of the process of your arrest to charge and show the judge exactly where reasonable doubt exists.

A talented DUI attorney can also help you with the mitigating aspects that may help you after the fact, such as enrolling in treatment and proactively addressing any issues that may have initially led you to the charges in Randolph, Mendham, Mount Olive, Morristown, Parsippany, East Hanover, Rockaway, Denville, and other towns in Morris County and New Jersey. These cases are very difficult for both parties because there is a lot at stake, but you can put your best foot forward by enlisting the assistance of a DUI attorney for your best defense. Call 973-524-7238 or message us to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Marijuana Use and the Law in New Jersey

Over recent decades, cannabis has been a hot topic across the United States. In 2021, Governor Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act into law. This law legalized cannabis possession for some New Jersey citizens and decriminalized possession of both marijuana and hashish. This sweeping change has left some confused about what the legalization of cannabis means for New Jersey, particularly as it relates to certain pockets of the population and within certain parts of the state. Read on to learn more about legal marijuana possession and use in New Jersey, the conflicting nature of federal law on this subject, and how these interplay in criminal cases involving cannabis still today.

How Old Must You Be to Use Marijuana in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act legalized cannabis use for people 21 years old and older. An adult can legally possess up to six ounces of marijuana. It is still illegal to be in possession of marijuana, hashish, or any associated products before the age of 21, though the severity of such illegal possession has been decriminalized under the law.

Marijuana Restrictions within a Military Facility

While New Jersey state law makes recreational marijuana legal, it is still considered illegal under federal law. All members of the military are subject to this federal standard, and marijuana use is prohibited for all members of the military. This includes medical marijuana use, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis for medical purposes.

Policies Regarding Drug Testing and Investigations While in the Military

Military personnel do undergo substance testing at regular and random intervals. Regardless of cannabis’s legality in New Jersey, military personnel serving in the state need not concern themselves with its legality here, and refrain completely.

Does Marijuana Legality Vary in National Parks?

National parks follow federal law, and as such, marijuana possession and use remains illegal. New Jersey citizens who enjoy the legality of marijuana under state law must take care to respect federal law while on its national parks such as the Gateway National Recreation Area, Morristown National Historical Park, and the Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River.

Penalties for Marijuana Offenses on Federal Government Property

Possession of marijuana on federal land can result in serious penalties, including up to a year in federal prison for a first offense, as well as up to $1,000 in fines; and up to two years for a second offense, with heightened fines to pay. These crimes are severe enough, but if you are caught selling marijuana on federal land, the penalties you face increase substantially. The sale of fewer than 50kg may result in up to five years in federal prison and as much as $250,000 in fines. Selling to a minor doubles the penalties.

Importance of Knowing the Specific Regulations for Each Park or Outdoor Grounds

While one may be tempted to assume that because marijuana use was made legal in the state of New Jersey in 2021, they can enjoy open access, this is not the case. First of all, private property owners can determine whether they allow marijuana use on their property, and those who disrespect their wishes are subject to penalties. Additionally, New Jersey state parks and U.S. federal parks abide by different laws in terms of cannabis possession and use, so while it may be safe to use marijuana in one park, it could land you in jail in another. It is your duty as a responsible citizen to review the jurisdiction of each park and outdoor property before considering using a cannabis product there.

Talk to a Marijuana Attorney in New Jersey

Because recreational cannabis use is a new and emerging area of legality in the state of New Jersey, some precedents have not yet been set regarding its use. Additionally, due to overlapping state and federal laws based on jurisdiction, the law can get murky. For these reasons and more, it is important to have the skilled guidance of a cannabis defense attorney if you have been charged with illegal possession, sale or intent to distribute, selling marijuana to a minor, growing marijuana, or maintaining a CDS production facility. Contact 973-524-7238 for a free consultation with a New Jersey lawyer who has kept a pulse on the emerging area of recreational cannabis laws across the United States, as well as federal opposition to sweeping measures of legality.

Having successfully represented hundreds of clients charged with cannabis offenses in Florham Park, Parsippany, Randolph, Morristown, Denville, Parsippany, Rockaway, Hanover, Chatham, Madison, Dover, and other towns in the Morris County area, we provide zealous defense against all manner of marijuana charges. Contact us today for immediate assistance regarding your marijuana case.

Even though they can seem like minor offenses, disorderly conduct in New Jersey is penalized with stiff consequences.

Being a law-abiding New Jersey citizen seems like a straightforward task, but there are many minute ways a person can end up on the wrong side of the law. Engaging in disorderly conduct is one of them, and many New Jerseyans find themselves with a criminal disorderly conduct charge as a result of relatively minor, nonviolent behavior. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, your life could be changed for the worse due to potential long-term consequences. You need a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact us today at 973-524-7238 to learn how we can help. Read on to learn more about criminal disorderly conduct in New Jersey.

What it Means to be Charged with Disorderly Conduct in New Jersey

Disorderly conduct is a criminal misdemeanor, or disorderly persons charge, in New Jersey, which results from behavior deemed by a judge to be improper or offensive. A person who is found to act in a way intended to cause a public disturbance, be it annoyance or fear, can be charged with disorderly conduct.

Law About Disorderly Conduct

According to N.J.S.A. 2c:33-2, disorderly conduct is the petty disorderly person’s (criminal) offense that purposefully causes “public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly [creates] a risk thereof.” According to the 2009 law, disorderly conduct is categorized as either improper or offensive behavior that is conducted in a public setting.

What Actions are Deemed to be Improper?

N.J.S.A. 2c:33-2 states that improper behavior includes publicly fighting, threatening, or engaging in violent behavior. It also consists of creating risk to others without legitimate reason or necessity.

What Kind of Language is Considered Offensive?

Offensive language, according to the law, includes the active offense of the sensibilities of those present by the use of loud and coarse language. The audience present, setting, and other factors, as well as the behavior of the perpetrator, affect whether someone can be rightfully charged with a criminal disorderly persons offense for offensive language.

Examples of Disorderly Conduct and its Occurrence

Common examples of disorderly conduct include drunk and disorderly behavior, public heckling, rioting, engaging in a bar fight, and making threatening comments or behaviors, though the range of disorderly conduct offenses is varied.

Legal Repercussions of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a petty criminal disorderly persons offense, which is equivalent to a criminal misdemeanor. The result of such a charge is up to 30 days in jail and a $500 financial penalty, as well as potential alternative or additional consequences such as restitution paid for damaged items, community service, and probation. Additionally, because disorderly conduct is technically a criminal offense, the charge will remain on one’s criminal record.

Is Jail a Possibility for Disorderly Conduct?

The judge may order that a person convicted of disorderly conduct serve up to a month in jail. However, particularly for first-time offenders convicted of nonviolent disorderly conduct, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help the person pursue alternative sentencing options.

Alternative Sentencing Options in Disorderly Conduct Cases

Alternative sentencing options for a disorderly conduct charge in New Jersey include conditional dismissal, as well as having a charge lowered to a municipal ordinance violation and other case-specific options, as in the case of military veterans battling alcoholism or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Conditional Dismissal for Disorderly Conduct

Conditional dismissal is an option often exercised by first-time offenders, in which a defendant can ensure the charge be dismissed at end of the case in exchange for following a set of conditions during an extended period of monitoring. In essence, conditional dismissal is an alternative sentencing option that occurs when a defendant pleads guilty and is placed under probationary supervision. Upon meeting the conditions of the probationary term, the person’s charge is dropped. They also become eligible for an expungement within 6 months to remove the offense from their record.

Reduction of Disorderly Conduct to a Town Ordinance

A defendant can often have a disorderly conduct charge reduced to a municipal ordinance violation with an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating for them in court. A municipal ordinance violation, also known as a town code violation, is not a criminal offense and is equivalent to a minor civil code violation such as a noise complaint.

In Morris County, disorderly conduct charges are specific and can be serious for your long-term outcomes without a solid defense. As a result, having your criminal charge lowered to a municipal ordinance can mean the difference between paying a fine and moving on, or dealing with the costs and consequences of a criminal disorderly conduct conviction.

Concerned About Disorderly Conduct Charges in New Jersey? Get Help

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in Parsippany, Mount Olive, Florham Park, East Hanover, Dover, Madison, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney working on your behalf. Having your charges downgraded or dismissed is possible, especially if your lawyer has handled thousands of disorderly conduct cases in municipal courts statewide for years. Call 973-524-7238 to speak to an attorney in a free and confidential consultation. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you.