On October 31, 2016, Fort Lee police arrested Jeurys Familia, a New York Mets pitcher, following an alleged incident of domestic violence. The complaint against Familia reportedly alleges that he “caused bodily injury to another” and that the authorities observed a scratch on the victim’s chest and a bruise to the victim’s right cheek. The result of these findings was Familia being placed under arrest and charged with simple assault.
Pursuant New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“PDVA”), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 et seq., simple assault constitutes one of the many predicate acts of domestic violence under New Jersey’s domestic violence laws. A person perpetrates simple assault if he:
- Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
- Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
- Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
However, the alleged perpetrator of a simple assault will not necessarily be arrested in every circumstance because the PDVA only mandates the arrest of the alleged perpetrator in certain situations.
The language of the statute matters when it comes to arresting domestic violence suspects. Specifically, the police must arrest the alleged perpetrator if there is a visible injury or if there was a weapon used – no exceptions. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-21a., when a person claims to be a victim of domestic violence, and where a law enforcement officer responding to the incident finds probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred, the law enforcement officer shall arrest the person who is alleged to be the person who subjected the victim to domestic violence and shall sign a criminal complaint if the victim exhibits signs of injury caused by an act of domestic violence or there is probable cause to believe that a weapon was involved in the commission of the act of domestic violence.
On the other hand, a law enforcement officer does not necessarily have to arrest an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence if there are no physical injuries or evidence of the use of a weapon because the applicable law states that an officer may arrest a person or sign a criminal complaint, or may do both, where there is probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has been committed but where there are no signs of injury or use of a weapon. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-21b.
Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges in Fort Lee NJ
In Familia’s case, the police report notes that the authorities observed a scratch on the victim’s chest and a bruise on the victim’s cheek, which are clear signs of injury. Thus, because of the visible signs of injury on the victim, law enforcement officers were required to arrest Familia.