Criminal Restraint Lawyers in Middlesex County, NJ
New Brunswick Criminal Restraint Defense Attorneys
Criminal restraint is an indictable felony offense in the State of New Jersey. The offense, which violates section N.J.S.A.2C:13-2 of the NJ Criminal Code of Justice, is often tied to additional charges for kidnapping and false imprisonment. There are technical differences between these offenses and if you are not careful, you can be sentenced to a crime that is even more serious, making it all the more critical to have a knowledgeable criminal lawyer defending your case. If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal restraint, false imprisonment, or related charges in Middlesex County, New Jersey, contact our office to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney now. We are here to answer your questions in a free consultation by contacting us online or calling our local office in Edison at (732) 659-9600. Should you choose to retain us, we will fight for you from day one, and do everything we can to improve your chances of obtaining a successful result.
What does Criminal Restraint mean per N.J.S.A. 13-2?
To be charged with criminal restraint, it must be alleged that you:
a) knowingly caused another person to be restrained unlawfully and that the situation did in fact, cause an injury or otherwise expose the alleged victim(s) to the risk of serious bodily injury;
b) knowingly caused another person to be in “a condition of involuntary servitude.” This means that you created circumstances in which the alleged victim believed that they had no choice but to remain in a specific place.
It is an affirmative defense (notice must be filed with the court) to the offense of criminal restraint that the person who was held was a minor and that the accused is a legal guardian or relative who had no other purpose than controlling the child. Nonetheless, for a conviction to be sustained, the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
To be proven guilty, the prosecutor must prove that you acted knowingly with regard to each element of the offense. Essentially, the crime is not an accident and the state must allege that you intentionally held someone against their will and exposed him or her to harm or involuntary servitude. It would have to be proven that you held a person on purpose, that you refused to let them go, and that you knew that the situation you created could cause an injury or cause the person to believe that they had no choice but to stay. The prosecutor will use testimony, circumstances surrounding the offense, text messages, medical records, and any other available information to demonstrate that you knew what you were doing and that you intentionally held someone against their will.
Are Kidnapping and False Imprisonment the Same as Criminal Restraint?
Charges for false imprisonment (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-3) and kidnapping (N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1) are not exactly the same as charges for criminal restraint. However, they are closely related statutory cousins. Although the three crimes have some overlapping elements, they are different. In certain situations, a person may be charged with all three crimes. Kidnapping is the most serious of the three and false imprisonment is the least serious. Criminal restraint lies somewhere between these two offenses in terms of its severity. For instance, in some trials, the state fails to prove you guilty of criminal restraint but asks the jury to find you guilty of the lesser offense of false imprisonment. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a more extreme form of restraint with an additional component, namely kidnapping.
The difference between the three is minor but relatively simple. Kidnapping is alleged when a person takes another against their will and intends to commit a crime against the person. Criminal restraint does not require an allegation that the person be taken against their will, but that they were held against their will and they were exposed to a risk of harm. False imprisonment, on the other hand, does not involve a risk of harm.
What is the Possible Sentence for Criminal Restraint in New Jersey?
Criminal restraint is a third degree crime. If you have any other criminal history, you can go to state prison for 3-5 years upon conviction. If you have no prior criminal history, there is a presumption against incarceration in state prison, but that may not stop the judge from sending you to jail if it is deemed necessary. You may also be subject to a term of probation ranging from 1 to 5 years and should you violate the terms, the judge can re-sentence you to the maximum 5-year term in prison.
Additional consequences of a third degree conviction include significant fines. The judge is authorized to fine you up to $15,000 and must order you to pay $50 VCCA fee, $75 SNF, $30 LEOTEF, and to pay for the cost of your fingerprinting and DNA. Making an already bad situation worse, the judge can order you to pay any restitution for the injuries or losses sustained by the victim, in addition to ordering that you undergo counseling or treatment.
Is Criminal Restraint Grounds for a Restraining Order in NJ?
Moreover, if your criminal restraint charge is the result of domestic violence, you face expanded penalties. Specifically, if the alleged victim is a person defined as a protected party under The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, the crime can serve as a basis for the restraining order. A former or current romantic partner, household member, or spouse are all protected parties that would allow them to allege the crime to effectively seek a restraining order.
Initially, a temporary restraining order (TRO) will be issued upon application by the alleged victim. After the temporary has been filed, the court will set a return date for a final hearing in which they will hear and review evidence and testimony. If the court finds that you committed an act of domestic violence, that the alleged victim was a protected party, and that he or she is in fear, the judge will issue a final restraining order (FRO). The FRO will direct you not to have contact with the victim, to stay away from the victim’s residence or place of employment, and to not have any contact whatsoever with other persons with whom the victim lives. Any violation of the order will lead to further charges.
Additional penalties will be assessed in conjunction with domestic violence if found guilty of criminal restraint. You will be assessed a domestic violence surcharge of $100, be forced to forfeit any weapons, and be forced to give up your firearms ID card. Also, you may be ordered to attend anger management during the term of your release or probation.
Discuss Your Case with an Edison Criminal Restraint Lawyer Now
There are many harsh repercussions that can befall you if you are not prepared to defend against a criminal restraint charge in Middlesex County and throughout New Jersey. Thankfully, we have the knowledge and skill to navigate around the hazards and troubleshoot any potential pitfalls before they come to affect your life. To discuss your criminal restraint charges in New Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Metuchen, Carteret, or another town in our area, contact our lawyers at (732) 659-9600 today. A free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney who knows how to defend you in court is available now.