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Incident at New Jersey casino leads to domestic charges

The Garden State's criminal justice system is based on the concept that every defendant is innocent until proven guilty. However, there are a number of criminal charges that may produce unpleasant and upsetting circumstances for a defendant far before he or she has a day in court. When it comes to domestic violence accusations, the public can be quick to judge the alleged offender and assume that the defendant is dangerous or untrustworthy.

The same goes for restraining orders. Once a New Jersey judge hands down such an order, an individual may immediately be prevented from seeing his or her family or children. But there may be ways for accused individuals to protect themselves during the legal process from the damaging repercussions. It is important for defendants to be aware of the tools and programs available to them.

The running back for the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Rice, is in the middle of a domestic legal situation, and he is trying to avoid spending time in jail. The NFL player was arrested in Atlantic City, New Jersey, earlier this year after an apparent altercation with his wife.

Rice was charged with aggravated assault after the alleged dispute. His then-girlfriend -- now his wife -- was also charged with domestic assault at the time, but that charge was subsequently dropped. Video footage from the casino elevator apparently showed that both parties were involved in the physical abuse. Since the charges were filed, authorities have offered Rice a plea deal, the terms of which state that Rice could avoid jail if he agreed to anger management counseling.

Rice also applied for the state's pretrial intervention program. This program can be helpful to first-time offenders. If a defendant successfully completes the program, he or she may be eligible to have the charges dropped. It is up to the county prosecutor to decide if a defendant is eligible for the program.

Source: The Washington Post, "Ravens' Ray Rice might avoid jail time despite assault charge," Matt Bonesteel, May 1, 2014

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