STAFFORD, NJ - Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf, and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove have formally requested committee consideration of their legislation that would require the court to consider the results of a domestic violence assessment before dissolving a final restraining order when the defendant has two or more restraining orders against him.
The 9th District Delegation’s legislation, S-257/A-1149, would establish a “domestic violence assessment” as an assessment performed by a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or licensed professional counselor with the goal of determining the likelihood that the offender will commit future acts of violence, abuse, or other unacceptable behavior that could pose a threat to the victim, the victim’s family, the victim’s property, or other person identified as being at risk. The defendant would be responsible for the cost of the assessment, which would be considered confidential.
The Delegation made the follow remarks on having their legislation posted for a public hearing:
“Despite the considerable efforts of law enforcement and social programs staffed by dedicated personnel, the sad reality is, as statistics clearly show, domestic violence is still pervasive in our society.
“According to the most recent annual report on domestic violence in New Jersey, there were 62,055 domestic violence offenses reported by the police in 2014. Children were involved or present during 29 percent of all domestic violence offenses occurring that year.
“To better protect women and children, we are proposing to prevent restraining orders from being dissolved by the courts when the defendant may still pose a danger to the victim who has sought protection under the law for their own safety or that of a loved one.
“Specifically, our legislation would codify factors currently considered by the court in determining whether a defendant, who has applied to dissolve a final order, has established requisite good cause.
“These factors include, but are not limited to, whether the victim voluntarily consents to dissolve the final order or if the victim fears the defendant. Additional factors of consideration would include the number of times the defendant has been convicted of contempt for violating the final order and whether the defendant has been involved in other violent acts with other persons.”
Presently, S-257 and A-1149 are waiting action by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Assembly Women and Children Committee, respectively.
An overview of domestic violence services in the state can be found on the official website of New Jersey State Department of Children and Families at the following link: http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/women/domestic/.