Just this past week, the first in 2010, the New Jersey Judiciary Committee began looking at 5 bills drafted by a group of four assemblywomen, according to the Associated Press. The five bills are all seeking tougher domestic violence laws and greater protection for domestic violence victims.
Sympathy for domestic violence victims is widespread and understandably so. Victims are typically, though not always, women, and they are often abused for years before seeking help.
Among the five new bills introduced is A-4367. This bill would instate mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of violence against someone under protection order. Violation of a protection order is already a criminal offense. This would add an additional element should a criminal act be committed in the violation of the order.
Another one of the bills, A-4363 would make coercion a criminal domestic offense. Coercion is defined by the bill as “the unlawful restriction of someone else’s freedom”.
Perhaps the most questionable proposed bill, A4363, would set up a pilot program to continuously monitor 500 convicted domestic violence offenders. Sex offenders are currently monitored in this way across the country. However, satellite monitoring of DV offenders is something fairly new.
Finally, A4365 would allow victims of domestic violence to claim self-defense in uses of force. This bill would make self protection a justifiable defense for victims of domestic violence.
There’s no indication at this current time how the bills will be received by lawmakers. There’s no doubt that citizens and legislators alike want to protect victims but they have to balance that with protecting the rights of others as well, even those convicted of a crime.
Being charged with a domestic assault is a life changing occurrence, even as the laws stand now. Domestic violence can rip families apart. Even if you are innocent of the charges against you, you will likely see family and friends turning their back on you.
During times like this you need someone in your corner looking out for your best interest and listening to your side of the story. I can be that person.
Contact me to discuss your case and how it should be handled.