SINGLETON AND BENSON BILL TO FURTHER PROTECT VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE RELEASED BY ASSEMBLY PANEL

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assembly members Troy Singleton and Daniel R. Benson that would help protect victims of domestic violence by allowing courts to order electronic monitoring of certain domestic violence offenders.

The bill, designated as “Lisa’s Law,” would authorize the court to order electronic monitoring of certain domestic violence offenders and require notification to the victim when that offender is within a certain proximity. The bill (A-321) is named after Letizia Zindell of Toms River who was murdered in 2009 by her former fiancé, Frank Frisco who later killed himself. The murder occurred a day after he was released from jail for violating a restraining order that Zindell had filed against him.

“Letizia Zindell’s killer violated the restraining order she filed against him repeatedly up until the day he took her life. Her tragic death shows more must be done to protect victims of domestic abuse,” said Singleton (D-Burlington/Camden). “This bill helps protect victims by authorizing the courts to order electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders, when there is a perceived threat against a victim, and notifying victims when their offenders are too close for comfort.”

“Letizia Zindell tried to protect herself, but sadly, the restraining order she filed was not enough to stop her murderer,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Like Letizia, there are countless others who have perished at the hands of their abusers. We must do more. This bill gives victims who have filed restraining orders against their abusers an additional layer of protection by authorizing the electronic monitoring of offenders and the notification of victims when their safety is threatened.”

Under the provisions of the bill, if a defendant is convicted on a second or subsequent occasion for contempt of a domestic violence restraining order, the court would be required to hold a hearing to determine whether the defendant should be placed under electronic monitoring utilizing a continuous, satellite-based, global positioning system for such a term as the court deems appropriate. In determining whether to order the monitoring, the court would consider the likelihood that the defendant’s participation in electronic monitoring will deter the defendant from injuring the victim. A “global positioning system” is defined as a continuous, satellite-based, 24 hour monitoring system that provides for the capability of active and passive monitoring, or a combination of both.

In addition, the bill authorizes the court to order the defendant to provide the victim with an electronic receptor device or cell phone capable of receiving the global positioning system information from the electronic monitoring device worn by the defendant. The device or cell phone would notify the victim if the defendant is located within a certain proximity to the victim as determined by the court. The costs and expenses related to electronic monitoring and the victim notification device would be paid by the defendant.

Any person who tampers with, removes, or vandalizes a monitoring device worn or utilized by a defendant is guilty of a crime of the third degree. A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.

The bill authorizes the Administrative Office of the Courts, in consultation with the Attorney General, to establish the electronic monitoring of such defendants. The system would provide for the capability of active and passive monitoring, or a combination of both. The monitoring system, at a minimum, would provide: (1) Time-correlated or continuous tracking of the geographic location of the defendant using a global positioning system based on satellite and other location technology; and (2) An automated monitoring system that can be used to permit law enforcement agencies to compare the geographic positions of such defendants with reported crime incidents and whether the subject was in the proximity of such reported crime incidents.

The Administrative Office of the Courts, in consultation with the Attorney General, would develop procedures to determine, investigate, and report on a 24 hour per day basis a defendant’s noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the program. All reports of noncompliance would be investigated immediately by a law enforcement officer.

The Administrative Office of the Courts, the Attorney General, the Superintendent of State Police and county and municipal law enforcement agencies would be required to share information obtained pursuant to this bill.

The bill was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.