A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley, Cleopatra Tucker, Joan Voss, Ralph Caputo and Gordon Johnson to bolster protections for domestic violence victims gained final legislative approval by the full Senate on Monday and now heads to the Governor’s desk.
The measure (A-1491), which passed the Assembly last October and passed the Senate by a vote of 38-0 today, is aimed at deterring future acts of domestic violence by imposing more stringent bail restrictions for anyone charged with contempt of a domestic violence restraining order.
“In some cases today, restraining order violators can get away with posting only $50 bail,” Riley said (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester. “Given the emotional and physical trauma that victims have already been subjected to, they should be able to receive some measure of comfort knowing our laws do everything possible to protect their safety in the future.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. With 85 percent of domestic violence victims being women, it’s estimated that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
“By upgrading penalties for individuals who have victimized a partner, we are sending a clear message that domestic disputes that result in violence will be treated with the utmost seriousness,” said Tucker (D-Essex).
“The current penalties release violators back onto the street with essentially no incentive to appear in court and account for their actions. This bill hold domestic violence offenders much more accountable,” said Voss (D-Bergen).
Currently, it is a crime of the fourth degree for a person to violate a provision in a restraining order. Generally, the court may allow defendants to be released on bail after they post 10 percent of the amount of bail in cash.
This bill would add offenses involving violations of domestic violence restraining orders to the list of crimes with bail restrictions, preventing violators from using the 10 percent cash option for posting bail. Individuals charged with these crimes may only post bail in the form of full cash, a surety bond or a bail bond secured by real property situated in the state with an unencumbered equity equal to the amount of bail plus $20,000.
“Domestic violence can destroy families and even lives. There needs to be a greater incentive for violators to appear in court and face the consequences of their actions,” said Caputo (D-Essex).
“Domestic violence is a very real and persistent problem. If we don’t send a stricter message when it comes to offenders, then the cycle will simply repeat itself, sometimes with deadly consequences,” said Johnson (D-Bergen).