Accusations of domestic violence can change a person’s life forever.
If the accusations are accompanied by arestraining order, the restrained person may be forced to vacate their own home, lose child
custody rights and/or forfeit their right to own a gun. All of these things
can seriously impact the accused person’s personal and professional
life; sometimes, it can even end a promising career.
This was the motive presented by the prosecution in a high-profile domestic
violence case against a former New Jersey police chief charged with conspiring
to kill his estranged wife. It was argued he blamed her for the demise
of his career after she filed a restraining order against him in 2003.
He lost his badge as a result. A trial in 2009 was declared a mistrial
because the jury could not agree on a murder conspiracy verdict; he was
found guilty at the retrial and sentenced to 17 years in state prison.
His defense attorney appealed the conviction and subsequent sentencing
on multiple grounds. The appeals court upheld the conviction but ruled
that he was entitled to be resentenced because the law was misapplied
during sentencing. The original judge used stricter sentencing guidelines
because the man was in a position of trust as a law enforcement officer,
but he had already been suspended at the time of the alleged murder conspiracy.
It is unknown how much his sentence will be lessened.
This case highlights the importance of having an attorney to fight for
your rights. Judges are required to follow sentencing guidelines for the
sake of consistency; yet different judges may interpret the guidelines
differently. If you feel that the law was not applied correctly in your
own domestic violence case, you may want to file a criminal appeal.
Source: Phillyburbs.com, “Appeals court upholds former chief Castagna's
conviction in murder plot,”Danielle Camilli, July 19, 2013