Ocean County Pilot Program Could Dramatically Increase the Expense and General Ramifications of Final Restraining Orders in New Jersey
A spate of high-profile instances of domestic violence is leading to a fresh focus on the issue from lawmakers around the country including right here in New Jersey.
In November, one Mercer County legislator proposed creating a statewide domestic violence perpetrator registry, akin to the “Megan’s Law” registry currently in place for Garden State sex offenders. The legal, economic and social/societal affects of restraining orders (and violations of final restraining orders) are already relatively severe. New Jersey also lacks a ‘sunset’ provision to its final restraining orders as you will find in many other states; when a New Jersey restraining order is made final, the mere passage of time will not result in its disposition. Little else besides the consent to the victim can do that.
A second major domestic violence legislative initiative of fall 2013 promises to keep experts, attorneys, the accused and victims debating these issues for a long time to come.
This latest proposal originated with state Assemblyman Ronald Dancer of Ocean County. Asm. Dancer’s bill A321 (S2910 is the Senate companion version) would designate $1 million in state funds for a four-year domestic violence electronic monitoring program in his home county. Offenders would need to shoulder the significant costs associated with the device including monitoring and notification services unless they could demonstrate extreme financial hardship.
The clear intent to combat the problem of repeat offenders. In determining whether a particular offender qualified for the program, according to the bill’s accompanying statement, “the court may hold a hearing to consider the likelihood that the defendant’s participation in electronic monitoring would deter the defendant from injuring the victim. The court would consider, among other factors, the seriousness of harm that the defendant inflicted on the victim; the defendant’s previous history of domestic violence and other criminal acts, if any; whether the defendant has access to a weapon; and whether the defendant has a history of mental illness or substance abuse.”
“Lisa’s Law,” named after a Toms River woman murdered by her former fiancee in 2009, has already been unanimously approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. You can click here to view the text and its convoluted legislative history.
We’ll keep a sharp eye on this legislation’s progress and, if it becomes law, the outcome of the pilot program. In the interim, if you or a loved one have questions regarding domestic violence, please contact the New Jersey family law attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele. Your confidential, initial consultation is only a click or call away. Call now to speak to one of our matrimonial attorneys at (856) 546-1350 or click here to contact us online.