Assembly Judiciary advances ‘Lisa’s Law’ to help protect domestic violence victims

TRENTON – The Assembly Judiciary Committee this morning released a bill designed to protect domestic violence victims from repeat offenders.

A321 would provide for electronic monitoring – ankle bracelets – on those who have been convicted already of a domestic violence offense and have been arrested again.

The bill passed unanimously with several committee members urging the language be tightened and made more precise legally.

The bill, sponsored by Troy Singleton, (D-7), Burlington and Ron Dancer, (R-12), Jackson is named for Letizia Zindell of Toms River who was murdered on Aug. 13, 2009 by her former fiancée, Frank Frisco who killed himself. The murder occurred a day after he was released from jail for violating a  restraining order that Zindell had filed against him.

Singleton said that his wife was a sorority sister of the victim. “My wife was particularly saddened and went through a bout of depression after Letizia’s passing,” Singleton said.

Dancer said the application of monitoring would be determined following a hearing after a second or subsequent arrest when a judge would determine the likelihood of further violence by the defendant.

Concerns were raised by the N.J. Bar Association and the Administrative Office of the Courts about constitutionality and due process as well as costs, both of which are issues the sponsors said they are willing to address.

The costs could be borne by defendants, possibly in the form of liens, or money could be set aside by counties, or non-profit foundations may contribute money if the bill is passed, according to the sponsors.

Committee members including Holly Schepisi, (R-39), Westwood and chairman Peter Barnes III, (D-18), Edison also raised constitutionality concerns.

“This deals with restraining order violations of repeated offenders who have a propensity for abusive and assaultive behavior upon their victims,” Dancer said.

The sponsors agreed with the legal concerns and told the committee they wanted to immediately amend wording in the bill to change “arrest’’ to “conviction’’ of a contempt order in order to address the due process issues.

“This bill provides domestic violence victims with a chance Lisa never had, to be a survivor,’’ said Tara McNichols, founder of Lisa’s Light Foundation, a  non-profit domestic violence intervention group.

McNichols told the committee through tears she believes that if this law had been in place, Zindell would be alive today.

Assembly Judiciary advances ‘Lisa’s Law’ to help protect domestic violence victims