Domestic Violence By Police Officer Found Unfit For Duty
- July 15, 2016
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F.M., a police officer, fought against the domestic violence claims of G.M., his wife, and defeated her attempt to obtain a final restraining order against him. However, although the Superior Court of New Jersey, Morris County, Family Part Judge hearing the matter refused to grant the final restraining order, the State of New Jersey moved to take control of F.M.’s firearms pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c)(5) which outlines the guidelines for the purchase of firearms in New Jersey. The Honorable Thomas J. Critchley, Jr. required F.M. to attend certain counseling and intervention programs and undergo a Fitness for Duty evaluation. Upon completion of his court ordered counseling, F.M. sought the return of his weapons in a hearing where substantial testimony with regard to prior incidents of domestic violence at the hands of F.M. was provided by G.M. Judge Critchley, after hearing the testimony of G.M. and the State’s witnesses, denied the State’s motion including in his opinion that F.M. and G.M. had a lengthy history in the Morris County Family Court to which the State’s expert psychologists were not privy yet the judges within the court were well acquainted. The N.J. Appellate Division affirmed Judge Critchley’s ruling with regard to the return of F.M.’s firearms. The N.J. Supreme Court granted certification and, In The Matter of Applications Of State of New Jersey For Forfeiture of Personal Weapons and Firearms Identification Card Belonging to F.M., concluded that the Family Part judge misinterpreted the statute as requiring the F.M. suffer from a specific disorder in order to be prohibited from possession his firearms and also misapplied the statute by requiring the State to prove “more than just a showing that some danger might exist” when the State was only required to meet the “preponderance of the evidence” standard in showing that F.M.’s possession of firearms was against the interest of the public health, safety and welfare. The N.J. Supreme Court found that the evidence presented by G.M. with regard to prior acts of domestic violence against her by F.M. and the testimony of two licensed psychologists who both concluded that F.M., based on his lack of self-control and inability to deescalate situations with his own wife, was unfit to perform the duties of a police officer. A Fitness for Duty evaluation by one of the psychologists further concluded that F.M. was a danger to himself and others and should be stripped of his weapons. If you are charged with domestic violence or seeking a final restraining order against an abuser, there are specific burdens of proof for both parties in proving or disproving the charges making it critical that you obtain experienced criminal defense counsel to represent you in such matters. For more information regarding domestic violence, restraining orders, assault, battery and other criminal law issues in NJ visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.