Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin and Speaker Vincent Prieto to help shield the home address of sexual assault victims from their assailants was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.
The Address Confidentiality Program, enacted in 1997, allows victims of domestic violence to establish an alternate mailing address and keep their actual address confidential. This bill (A-1957) would expand the Address Confidentiality Program to encompass victims of stalking and victims of sexual assault.
“The ramifications of sexual assault are equally as traumatizing as domestic violence and victims deserve the same protections under law,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “This program has helped add an extra layer of protection for domestic violence victims for nearly 20 years now and will hopefully do the same for victims of sexual assault.”
“While the physical trauma from these types of assaults may be temporary, the psychological trauma can last indefinitely,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Part of that stems from the fear of not knowing whether an assailant will strike again. Hopefully this bill will help protect sexual assault victims and give them greater peace of mind.”
Currently, a person applying to the Address Confidentiality Program must provide a sworn statement that the applicant has good reason to believe that they are a victim of domestic violence and fear further violent acts from the assailant. The statute does not require the assailant to have been charged with or convicted of any criminal offense or subject to a domestic violence restraining order. If the application is accepted, the applicant is certified as a program participant for a period of four years. At the end of that period, the participant may apply to be re-certified for subsequent four-year periods.
The Address Confidentiality Program provides the participant with a designated address to be used as the participant’s mailing address. The program forwards the participant’s mail to the participant’s actual address, while the actual address remains confidential and available only to employees of the program and to law enforcement. The participant may also use the designated address as their work address and may request that any state or local agency use it as the participant’s address.
A program participant’s certification may be cancelled if:
1) the participant obtains a name change through an order of the court;
2) the participant changes their residential address and does not provide seven days’ advance notice to the program;
3) mail forwarded by the program to the participant’s actual address is returned as undeliverable; or
4) any information on the application is false.
In expanding the program to encompass victims of stalking and sexual assault, the bill keeps the same program criteria as that in current law for domestic violence victims.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.