Criminal Coercion Attorney in Hudson County, NJ
In New Jersey, criminal coercion is a serious charge. The diversity of people, their personalities, including their strengths and weaknesses, makes life interesting. Some have forceful personalities, dominating conversations and winning arguments with assured confidence. You may want that type of person to stick up for you in a fight or negotiate a contract for you in a business deal, but when does strength, confidence, and persuasiveness cross the line into bullying and coercion? While the relationships of the parties and the situation may make the distinction, the fine line may mean the difference between criminal and legal behavior. If you are facing charges for criminal coercion, this is the type of allegation that you want to discuss with an attorney. At Proetta & Oliver, our criminal defense lawyers defend those arrested and charged with crimes throughout Hudson County and New Jersey, such as Hoboken, Jersey City, Secaucus, Kearny, Union City, Bayonne, and West New York. For a free consultation about your particular case and dedicated legal guidance from experienced criminal attorney Will Proetta and our team, call our local Jersey City office at (201) 793-8108 or reach out online today.
New Jersey Criminal Coercion Law Section 2C:13-5
Criminal coercion is intentionally depriving someone of the freedom to do or not do something by means of physical force or threat of harm. Abridging another’s freedom also may occur by accusing another of committing an offense or blackmailing someone with exposure of secrets, striking, boycotting, testifying or withholding from testifying. It is also an offense under this section if you are accused of taking or causing another to take or withhold official action against the person with the aim of financial, physical, emotional or other harm. Basically, an individual can be charged with a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5 for doing anything else intentionally calculated to cause another physical, financial, business, career, personal or reputational harm.
Criminal coercion is essentially a crime of duress, when the subtle line of intimidation crosses over to unlawful blackmail, revenge, torture, or harassment. Thus, forcing someone at gun point to rob a convenience store is coercion if the victim believed their life was in danger by not complying with the demand. In other words, people generally do not act against their own interests, purposefully damage their own lives, or risk going to jail, unless forced to do so. When that force or threat is another’s words or actions, criminal coercion is likely.
What is the Punishment for Criminal Coercion in New Jersey?
Anyone charged with criminal coercion through purposely restricting another’s freedom by unlawful actions or threats is facing a crime of the fourth degree. A person is exposed to 18 months in prison and a $10,000.00 fine for a fourth degree crime if convicted. The penalty is higher if the actor unlawfully threatens to commit a higher crime than a fourth degree crime. For example, if a husband forces his wife to stay inside the home upon threat of a serious physical beating, the crime of criminal coercion has been committed, but the crime threatened is likely third degree aggravated assault. It may also be considered terroristic threats, as the same action can constitute several crimes with differing penalties. A third degree crime is punishable by three to five years in prison and up to $15,000.00 in fines.
Not only does a defendant convicted of criminal coercion face imprisonment and fines, but they may also violate other laws and compound their sentence and consequences.
Can Criminal Coercion be Domestic Violence in NJ?
Criminal coercion is one of the crimes listed in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act that constitutes domestic violence, along with assault, harassment, stalking, sexual assault, lewdness, and others. A domestic partner, spouse, date, ex-spouse, or parent of the victim’s child who coerces the victim to do something they don’t want to do, may be criminally prosecuted for violating 2C:13-5, and be subject to a restraining order.
Anyone qualifying under the Domestic Violence Act as a victim of domestic violence may seek protection against the violator by filing a domestic violence complaint and an application for a restraining order, forbidding the named party from contacting the victim and their household. A restraining order not only prohibits the defendant from contacting the victim and their family, but also orders them to surrender any firearms in their possession. A restraining order starts as temporary until both parties can testify in front of a judge to tell their sides of the story. If made permanent, the restrained party may not be able to own a firearm ever again.
Moreover, a violation of a restraining order is a separate offense called criminal contempt that is punishable either as a disorderly persons offense if the violation is minor, say an email or telephone call contact to the victim, or a fourth degree crime if the violation is one of the underlying crimes such as stalking or harassment.
Consult a Jersey City Criminal Coercion Lawyer Today
Clearly, criminal coercion has many possible consequences that may add up to jail time, fines and more. A permanent restraining order has no termination date, so criminal coercion in a domestic violence situation has long-lasting risks and severe consequences on top of a criminal record. If you have been charged with criminal coercion in the Hudson County area, do not go it alone. Find answers and relief in the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney at our firm by contacting us now. We can represent you in court and advocate for your interests and rights. Whether you have been charged with criminal coercion in North Bergen, Weehawken, Jersey City, Harrison, or anywhere else in New Jersey, you can trust a lawyer at Proetta & Oliver knows the court system where your case is handled and can reach the top disposition of your case.