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A new domestic violence crime is proposed in New Jersey

Sussex County residents should be aware that there could soon be a new crime on the New Jersey statute books. The new crime would make it illegal to commit a domestic violence act in front of a child who is age 16 or younger. Assemblywoman Celeste Riley introduced the bill earlier this month; Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

According to the proposed law, a violation of the crime would result in criminal prosecution for both the domestic violence offense as well as the separate crime of committing the offense in front of a child. If the underlying domestic violence offense is a disorderly persons offense or petty offense, then committing the act of domestic violence in front of a child would be a fourth degree crime. Such crime would be punishable by up to 18 months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.

The motivation behind this law isn't just to protect abused husbands or wives, but help the "silent victims"; children who witness the abuse.

Children who have grown up in a home where domestic violence is prevalent have a greater chance of developing social behavioral issues. Additionally, children who witness violence have also been linked to continuing the abusive cycle by reacting to conflict violently when confronted.

Domestic violence affects entire families and it is not just limited to physical abuse. Threatening text messages, angry verbal confrontations or phone calls can all be considered a form of domestic violence. It is important to contact legal representation right away if you or a loved one is being abused. Such threats can provide the necessary evidence to obtain a restraining order.

Whether you have been falsely accused of domestic violence or are a victim of abuse, when children are involved it is always important to focus on their best interests. Hopefully, this law will provide a safety net for the innocent children who have to endure conflict in their homes.

Source: New Jersey 101.5 "Domestic Violence in Front of Children Could Become a Crime in New Jersey," Kelly Waldron, Oct. 2, 2012

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