(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste M. Riley, Gabriela M. Mosquera, Paul D. Moriarty and Angel Fuentes to allow domestic violence victims to testify against their abusers via closed circuit television under certain circumstances was approved 74-1 Monday by the full Assembly.
“Many victims struggle with reporting their abusers out of fear for their safety. The same fear extends to testifying against them in court,” said Riley (D- Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This bill ensures a victim can have her day in court without being intimidated by her abuser.”
“Having to recount an abusive relationship in front of your abuser can be unnerving for an individual who’s been battered,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Allowing victims to testify via close-circuit television allows them to confront their abusers without fear.”
The bill (A-3219) would allow a domestic violence victim to testify against an alleged abuser via closed circuit television in prosecutions for a crime or offense involving domestic violence.
“Domestic abuse is traumatic. Some victims are so frightful of their abusers that they would rather not press charges or even testify in court for fear of retribution,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill makes it easier for victims to come forward and get justice.”
“It takes a lot of courage and strength for victims of domestic abuse to face their perpetrators. We should be able to accommodate these victims who want to hold their abusers accountable, but are too afraid to do so under their glare,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester).
Under the bill, the court may, following a hearing, order the taking of the testimony out of the presence of the jury, defendant, or spectators. Closed circuit testimony would be allowed if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the witness would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court.
The bill now awaits consideration by the Senate.