Domestic Violence

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges in New Jersey

In New Jersey, domestic violence crimes are punished harshly.  Domestic violence crimes include the following crimes, when committed by an adult against a person who meets the criteria of a domestic violence victim:

  • Homicide;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Assault;
  • Criminal restraint;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Terroristic threats;
  • Harassment;
  • And several others.

Domestic violence victims could include a current or former spouse, a current or former household member, a person you are dating, or a person with whom you are expecting a child.

Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenses

Potential penalties for domestic violence crimes vary depending on the nature of the crime.  Those charged with a domestic violence offense could face several years in prison, considerable fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Read more . . .

Monday, January 30, 2017

New Law Limits Domestic Violence Offenders' Access to Firearms

How does New Jersey enforce domestic violence laws?

In January, New Jersey Gov, Chris Christie signed into law a measure that limits access to firearms for individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence offenses or are under restraining orders. This move comes after the governor vetoed an earlier version of the bill last May.

While that measure had bi-partisan support, Christie proposed a workaround that would have expedited the permit process for survivors of domestic abuse who sought to obtain a gun for their own protection. After threatening to override the veto, lawmakers crafted a revised bill (S2483) that bans convicted domestic violence offenders and others under a restraining order from possessing firearms and requires them to surrender or sell their weapons.


Read more . . .

Monday, September 26, 2016

Roughing the Kicker’s Wife?

Q: Can a domestic violence arrest affect my employment?

It’s football season—and all your rowdy friends are here.

It’s common to see a professional football player push another, throw them to the ground, jump on top of them, or even use a forearm on the back of the neck to pin an opponent’s face to the turf.

But no one expects this kind of behavior from the kicker…especially against his own wife.

Read more . . .

Monday, May 23, 2016

Little Leniency for Woman Who Burned Her Newborn

What role does mental illness play in criminal sentencing?

Women go through a lot during and after pregnancy. One can experience all types of positive and negative feelings during this time. But, the urge to hurt a child is usually linked to some type of mental illness. If a woman has this urge and succeeds in injuring or killing her child, she will likely face criminal charges. What role will her mental illness in her criminal case? We might find answers in a recent case coming out of the State of New Jersey.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Racial Bias in Media Coverage of Domestic Violence Offenders

Why does media coverage target African-American domestic abusers more vigorously than white offenders?

According to a research study undertaken by the University of Maryland, there appears to be a discrepancy in the way the media covers celebrity domestic violence cases, depending on the race of the offenders. In examining 330 news articles covering approximately 66 celebrities between 2009 and 2011, the study found a much more vociferous response in the press and over the air waves when the abusers were people of color. Clearly, though domestic violence should never be tolerated, our culture seems to have a bias about how serious a crime it represents depending on who commits it.

Evidence of racial bias, according to the study, was found in the much higher number of news articles about Chris Brown than in those about Sean Penn, Mel Gibson, and Charlie Sheen. Also, while Chris Brown has been attacked again and again on TV interviews, Charlie Sheen, who has arguably committed as many violent attacks on women, has been handled with kid gloves. Brown's domestic abuse convictions have also kept him from getting a visa to travel on tour, while we have not heard anything about the white celebrities being deprived of travel privileges.

As the Media Reports, Society Responds

If we as a society want to reduce the occurrence of the domestic violence, it is incumbent upon us to prosecute such cases impartially.  The University of Maryland study uncovered the fact that white celebrities involved in domestic abuse scandals were less likely to receive harsh news coverage than their minority counterparts. White abusers were two and a half times more likely to be portrayed as "troubled" or partners in a conflicted marriage. There was also an observed tendency to view white violence as the result of "mitigating circumstances," such as intoxication or temporary insanity.

It is in this context of unequal media treatment, coupled with unequal arrest and prosecution that the innocent verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial begins to make a modicum of sense. In a social environment where black and Hispanic men are so much more prone to be victimized by the system, it is somewhat understandable that the minority community would rise up to protect one of its own.

The Statistics

Joanna Pepin, lead author of the study, noted several ways in which the characterizations of white and black celebrity domestic abusers differed:

  • Black men were 3 times more likely to be portrayed as criminals
  • Reports on black men were 3 times more likely to cite arrest information, official charges, and mention of law enforcement
  • While anger or intoxication were used as excuses for the violence of white men, black men were more likely to be stigmatized as addicts or criminals

This tendency to absolve white celebrities of responsibility for their domestic violence has disturbing implications -- it not only furthers racial bias, but it leads to victim-blaming of a significant portion of survivors.

As pointed out by Kim Gandy, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, on the organization's website, “When the media reinforce destructive racial stereotypes, where white celebrity abusers are coddled and celebrity abusers of color are vilified, all victims lose.”

The penalties for domestic violence can be harsh and carry over into your ability to lead a normal life in the future. As this article illustrates, you may, simply because of your race or ethnicity, not be playing on a level field when you encounter media coverage or even the criminal justice system. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should promptly contact an expert criminal defense attorney to give you the best chance of a positive outcome.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Steely Dan Co-Founder Charged in Domestic Violence Case

How common is domestic violence?

The lead singer and co-founder of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, was recently arrested on misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a domestic violence incident with his wife.

A New York City Police Department spokesperson reportedly said that Fagen and his wife, Libby Titus, were involved on a verbal dispute and that he grabbed her by the arm and pushed her. Ms. Titus fell into a marble window frame and bruised her arm. The singer was released without bail the morning after the incident after his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. The judge issued an order of protection for Mr. Fagen to keep away from his wife. While it is unclear at this time how this case will be resolved, it shows that domestic violence can occur in any relationship.

What is domestic violence?

Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence, regardless of socioeconomic background, education level, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence has typically been referred to as spousal abuse, but spouses of either gender are not the only ones who can be victimized. Domestic abuse victims can be children, other family members, people who are living together and even dating partners.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another partner. Domestic violence can occur in many ways, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, psychological abuse, threats, stalking and cyber- stalking. Common forms of abuse involve the following:

• Physical abuse includes any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim -- hitting, biting, slapping, battering, punching, and shoving (as was the case allegedly involving the Steely Dan front man).

• Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser attempts to coerce or force, or actually coerces or forces, the victim into having sexual contact without his or her consent.

• Emotional abuse involves things like constant criticism, bullying, name-calling, injuring the victim's relationship with others, threatening, or interfering with natural freedoms.

• Psychological abuse involves intimidation by the abuser threatening to physically hurt him or herself, the victim, children, isolating the victim from loved ones, and/or prohibiting the victim from going to school or work.

What can be done about domestic violence?

If you have been the victim of domestic violence, you should call the police. There are a number of legal protections available, including obtaining a order of protection. You should also contact a qualified attorney who can help determine other legal remedies that may be available to you.

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