Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joe Lagana and Joann Downey to ensure that the location of stalking, domestic violence, assault and harassment victims remains confidential was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Thursday.
“We’ve heard of instances where a victim’s address changed over the course of a criminal case and an address that was confidential at the start may appear in subsequent discovery documents. This bill addresses the continued need for location confidentiality for stalking victims while also strengthening location confidentiality for domestic violence victims,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Both of these populations share a heightened need for strictly maintained location confidentiality and we need to do everything we can to help provide them with that assurance and comfort.”
Current law provides that in instances where a judgment of conviction for stalking has been entered, a hearing may ensue on the application for a permanent restraining order unless the victim requests otherwise.
The bill (A-4990) stipulates that the victim’s location shall remain confidential and shall not appear on any court or law enforcement documents or records to which the defendant has access, both prior to conviction and post-conviction.
“Many victims of stalking and domestic violence go to great lengths to make sure their location is shielded from their abuser. The road to freedom must be paved with an assurance that they can maintain this confidentiality,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Living free of fear is just as important as ensuring that justice is served.”
The bill also amends existing law when it comes to criminal complaints in domestic violence cases, to stipulate that the victim’s location shall remain confidential and shall not appear on any court or law enforcement documents or records to which the defendant has access.
Additionally, the bill was amended to provide that victims of assault, aggravated assault, harassment, or cyber-harassment can make an application to the court for an order providing that the victim’s location would be confidential and would not appear on any law enforcement or court documents or records to which the defendant has access.
The amendments also strengthen current law to ensure that the location of victims of sex offenses remains confidential.
The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.