Domestic Violence Offenders Subject To Electronic Monitoring In NJ
- January 19, 2014
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A bill, A-321, awaiting the signature of NJ Governor Chris Christie will launch a pilot program in Ocean County for the monitoring of those found guilty of domestic violence. Named Lisa’s Law after Letizia Zindell, a woman murdered by her former fiancé, Frank Frisco, the day after his release from jail in 2009 for violating a restraining order for her protection. The pilot program will be tested for a period of 4 years and a report will be furnished at the end of the term whereby the program may be expanded throughout the state of New Jersey if it is deemed beneficial in saving victims of domestic violence from further harm. Upon being found guilty of domestic violence offenders could, at the judges’ discretion, be required to wear a monitoring bracelet and victims could be notified if their attackers come within a certain proximity. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) opposed this bill due to the financial expense and what they perceive will be a drain on judicial resources as offenders have more frequent and lengthy hearings to oppose the imposition of monitoring bracelets. The AOC also cited lack of ability to estimate the number of defendants the system would have to process and monitor as well as lack of specificity in the legislation regarding which agency would bear responsibility for monitoring to ensure compliance with the program in voicing their opposition to the program. As drafted, offenders would be required to pay all or a portion of the expenses related to monitoring and notification, based on their ability to pay. There is no proposed method of ascertaining the defendant’s ability to pay but, much like other programs involving inability to pay and the right to appointed counsel, monitoring is burdensome and frequently overlooked permitting those with ample resources to avoid payment and place a higher burden on the state’s taxpayers to bear the defendant’s legal fees. Removal of the bracelet would be a 3rd degree crime punishable by 3-5 years in prison. Victims would be permitted to, but not required to, consent to notification if the defendant enters within an area of close proximity. One must wonder what purpose the legislation would serve in the event a victim were to opt out of notification and the need for monitoring in such circumstances. Domestic violence is a very serious charge in New Jersey and the need to deter would be abusers has resulted in escalating penalties over time. If this bill passes, which is most likely to be the case, offenders will be subject to the prior penalties of fines, possible incarceration, inability to own firearms or obtain a firearms ID card as well as this new monitoring bracelet which could alert were the abuser to as much as unwittingly enter into the same restaurant or store as the victim and result in investigative detention and possible further punishment of the abuser following a hearing on the matter. If you are charged with domestic violence or seeking a final restraining order against an abuser, the increased stakes for a guilty finding will result in increased burdens of proof for both parties in proving or disproving the charges making it critical that you obtain experienced criminal defense counsel to represent you in such matters. For more information regarding domestic violence, restraining orders, assault, battery and other criminal law issues in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.