Senate OKs greater penalties for domestic violence offenders

TRENTON – The Senate passed unanimously bill A1491, which aims to prevent future acts of domestic violence by imposing more stringent bail restrictions for anyone charged with contempt of a domestic violence restraining order.

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. Bill A1491 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.

“In some cases today, restraining order violators can get away with posting only $50 bail,” said Assemblywoman Celeste Riley said (D-3) in a statement. “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 Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex) in a statement.

Senate OKs greater penalties for domestic violence offenders