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NJ Domestic Violence Strangulation Charges

Aggravated Assault Strangulation Attorneys in New Jersey

Domestic Violence Strangulation Defense Lawyers NJ There have been changes in New Jersey strangulation law in recent years. Previously, strangulation was a third degree crime (indictable – felony) which was punishable by 3-5 years in state prison, fines, probation, and a permanent felony charge on your record. Recently, in July 2021, Governor Murphy signed new legislation that elevated strangulation from a third degree felony to a second degree felony. Now, second degree aggravated assault strangulation is punishable by 5-10 years in prison, fines, probation, and a permanent felony on your record. In addition, because this is a violent offense, the defendant is subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) and must serve 85% of their prison sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

If you or a loved one needs assistance with a second degree aggravated assault strangulation charge in New Jersey, we can help. We have a team of seasoned criminal defense lawyers who have literally handled thousands of domestic violence cases over the years – criminal charges and restraining orders – with tremendous results. Our attorneys appear in courts across the state on a weekly basis representing clients in domestic violence cases, including in Hackensack, Newark, Jersey City, Morristown, Paterson, Freehold, and New Brunswick. Contact our offices now for immediate assistance at 908-336-5008. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.

2nd Degree Aggravated Assault Strangulation Statute – NJ 2C:12-1(b)(13)

The New Jersey law governing 2nd degree strangulation is NJSA 2C:12-1(b)(13) which provides in pertinent part:

b. Aggravated assault. A person is guilty of aggravated assault if the person:

(13) Knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly obstructs the breathing or blood circulation of a person who, with respect to the actor, meets the definition of a victim of domestic violence, as defined in subsection d. of section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19), by applying pressure on the throat or neck or blocking the nose or mouth of such person, thereby causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.

This is a second degree crime punishable by the following penalties:

  • $150,000 fine
  • 5-10 years in NJ state prison
  • Presumption of imprisonment
  • 85% of prison time must be served without parole
  • If no prison imposed, probation
  • Can give up to 364 days in county jail as a condition of probation

Warrant Complaint, Bail Review After Strangulation Arrest

Second degree felony charges will be prosecuted by the County Prosecutor’s office in the county in which the defendant is charged. These charges are almost always issued on a warrant complaint which means that, after the defendant is arrested, fingerprinted, and processed, they will be taken to the county jail where they will remain until they see a Judge for a bail review (usually within 24-48 hours). Then, if the State does not move for detention, the defendant will appear for the bail review from jail and be released with a court date and certain conditions of reporting (in person to probation, by phone to probation, house arrest, ankle bracelet, no contact with the victim, etc.) If the State moves for detention, which they usually do in these cases because of the very serious nature of the charges, then the defendant will appear for the bail review and will be remanded back to the county jail until the detention hearing is held (usually within 5 days).

Detention Hearing for Accusations of Strangling Someone

At the detention hearing, the assistant prosecutor will argue that the defendant should remain in custody while the case is going on because they are a flight risk and/or a danger to the community. Probation will create a public safety assessment for the Judge which scores the defendant on a numerical scale from 1 to 6 with 1 being the lowest and 6 being the highest on two areas: failure to appear and risk of new criminal activity. They will also make a recommendation to the Judge about whether or not the defendant should be released and what level of monitoring they should be placed on. Finally, the defense attorney will argue for the defendant’s release based on their lack of criminal history, ties to the community, character references, etc. The State has the burden to show that there are no conditions that exist that can ensure the defendant appears in court and to protect the community.

Pre-Indictment Conference, Discovery, Plea Offer for a Strangulation Charge

After the bail review and detention hearing (where applicable), the case will be scheduled for a pre-indictment conference. Prior to the conference, the State will provide the evidence they have and intend to use to attempt to prove the charges in court beyond a reasonable doubt (known as discovery) as well as an initial plea offer. In some cases, they may review the case and downgrade the charges to simple assault and remand them to the municipal court. In other cases, they may offer a variety of pleas:

  • Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI)
  • Probation with a felony
  • Probation with up to 364 days in county jail
  • State prison (plea to second degree, sentenced as third degree, 3-5 years with 85%)
  • State prison (plea to second degree, 5 years minimum mandatory with 85%)

Domestic Violence Restraining Order for Strangulation/Choking

In addition to criminal charges, if the alleged strangulation was a domestic violence incident, the alleged victim can also apply for a temporary restraining order (TRO). This can be applied for with the police department, municipal court, or superior court. The restraining order is civil in nature and, if granted, will be scheduled for a final restraining order (FRO) hearing in the Superior Court, Family Division. Because it is a civil matter, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff and he or she must prove all elements required by a preponderance of evidence which is more likely than not (51%) standard of proof. In order to obtain a final restraining order (FRO) the Plaintiff must prove the following elements:

  • Predicate act of domestic violence (in this case assault – strangulation)
  • Prior history of violence
  • Plaintiff is in fear for their safety and a reasonable person in their position would be in fear and need the protection that a restraining order provides

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in Aggravated Assault Strangulation 2C:12-1b(13) Cases

FAQ: Can I enroll in a diversionary program for a domestic violence strangulation case? A second degree felony is a serious offense punishable by 5-10 years in prison with a presumption of jail time. Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) is a first time offender program usually reserved for lower level felonies (third and fourth degree). On a second degree charge, a defendant can not even apply for PTI without the State’s consent.

FAQ: I have no prior record and I’m charged with 2nd degree strangulation. Am I going to jail? Possibly. There is a presumption of imprisonment even for first time offenders. However, hopefully, your attorney will be able to negotiate a plea bargain to a lower offense and keep you out of jail.

FAQ: The alleged victim doesn’t want to move forward with my strangulation charges. Can the case be dismissed? Possibly but it’s up to the State and the prosecutor ultimately what happens with the case. If the State can’t prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt without the alleged victim’s cooperation and testimony, then the case may be dismissed. If there are other witnesses to the alleged assault like police officers, then the prosecutor may attempt to proceed without the victim.

Get Help from our Domestic Violence Attorneys Defending 2nd degree Strangulation Charges in NJ

Being charged with second degree domestic violence strangulation in New Jersey means you are facing the second-most serious type of indictable criminal offense possible under the New Jersey Criminal Statutes. Without a solid defense approach and the experienced representation of a criminal defense attorney who is highly familiar with defending aggravated assault charges for choking, you may be sentenced to prison for up to a decade. Our team of criminal defense lawyers has extensive knowledge and skill handling domestic violence charges and restraining orders against our clients in Toms River, Elizabeth, Somerville, Trenton, Belvidere, Newton, and other New Jersey areas. Contact us now for immediate assistance and a free initial consultation at 908-336-5008.

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With offices in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark, Middletown, and New Brunswick, our lawyers can represent you anywhere in New Jersey and are available immediately to assist you at (908)-336-5008

Hackensack / Bergen County

254 State Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601

  • 201-556-1570
  • 201-556-1572
Hackensack Office

Morristown / Morris County

60 Washington St Suite 200A,
Morristown, NJ 07960

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Morristown Office

Newark / Essex County

1 Gateway Center Suite 2600
Newark, NJ 07102

  • 201-654-3464
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Newark Office

for a free initial consultation Contact the Tormey Law Firm

Travis J. Tormey is a distinguished member of the legal community and a respected legal resource on domestic violence. He has been featured in a variety of prominent publications and media outlets, including CBS radio, Aol News, the Asbury Park Press,, and the Daily Record. Mr. Tormey has also been recognized as one of the the top criminal attorneys under 40 years of age by the National Trial Lawyers Association and the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Whether representing victims or the wrongly accused, Travis remains passionately committed to protecting the rights of the innocent.

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The Tormey Law Firm LLC handles restraining order cases in Bergen County (Hackensack), Morris County (Morristown), Passaic County (Paterson), Union County (Elizabeth), Hudson County (Jersey City), Middlesex County (New Brunswick), Somerset County (Somerville), Sussex County (Newton), Essex County (Newark), Hunterdon County (Flemington), Mercer County (Trenton), Monmouth County (Freehold), Warren County (Belvidere), Ocean County (Toms River), Burlington County (Mount Holly), and throughout NJ.

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