In New Jersey, the offense of “Criminal Restraint” is a third-degree crime under N.J.S. 2C:13-2, and is often associated with kidnapping and like crimes. However, unlike kidnapping, the victim does not need to be taken by force, rather, he or she must be subjected to a condition where they are unable to leave.
Proving the Case
There are two ways to the offense of New Jersey for Criminal Restraint under N.J.S. 2C:13-2 can be committed. The first occurs where the defendant restrained the victim and exposed him or her to serious bodily injury. The Prosecutor must prove the defendant knew the victim could be exposed to serious bodily injury, or that certain conditions (circumstances) existed that could cause the victim serious bodily injury. The Prosecutor must also prove the victim was actually exposed to serious bodily injury. This is the type of injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. The fact the victim could have risked bodily injury or significant injury in not enough to convict.
The second method of prosecuting a New Jersey Criminal Restraint Charge is where the defendant subjects the victim to a condition of involuntary servitude. Here, the State must prove that the victim was not just unable to leave, but that they believed they could not leave the location they were held in, and that they were subjected to provide services to the defendant. It does not matter whether the victim was compensated for the services.
Proving Your Innocence to a New Jersey Criminal Restraint Charge
Like any crime, the way to beat a New Jersey Criminal Restraint charge, is to raise defenses to help convince the prosecutor to dismiss, or a jury to acquit. This requires the defense attorney to investigate the Defendant’s level of culpability (responsibility) and whether the Prosecutor can prove the knowledge requirement. Second, it requires a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the restraint and whether the victim was free to leave or did not face serious bodily injury. In the case of involuntary servitude, it must be investigated as to whether the victim provided services to the defendant, and whether the victim knew they were not free to leave.
Like all third-degree crimes, a conviction in New Jersey for Criminal Restraint is punishable by three to five years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, and court costs. A conviction for “Criminal Restraint” will leave you with a criminal record, that cannot be expunged or removed in any way. This means that a conviction will stay on your record forever.
While a conviction for Criminal Restraint is only a third-degree crime, it could carry other collateral consequences. Your employment could be in jeopardy of you are a teacher, or have a job that requires you not to have a criminal record. If you hold a special license, like a nurse, doctor, lawyer, trade in securities, etc., those licenses could be in jeopardy by such a conviction. A conviction may cause you to incur international travel restrictions, such as travel to Canada and possibly other countries. A conviction could cause you to lose your voting rights while on probation, parole, or incarcerated. If you are undocumented, then you would certainly face deportation upon conviction, even if you have no prior criminal record.
Contact Our Offices Today!
Steven W. Hernandez is dedicated to the principal that each defendant is innocent until proven guilty. To that end, your freedom is his priority. Mr. Hernandez has been practicing criminal defense throughout New Jersey since 2004. If you have been charged with criminal restraint in violation of N.J.S. 2C:13-2, call New Jersey Criminal defense Attorney Steven W. Hernandez at 732-286-2700 to set up a consultation.