TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Legislation that would impose more stringent bail restrictions on those charged with violating domestic violence-related restraining orders in New Jersey will go before the state Senate this week.
Proponents say the measure, which cleared the Assembly last fall, would provide more protection for victims by making it harder for suspects to post bail and make offenders more accountable for their actions.
It would bar those accused of violating such orders from having the option to post 10 percent of their bail to gain their release. Instead, they would have to post the full amount or have a bail bond secured by real property equal to the bail amount plus $20,000.
Under current law, suspects can gain freedom by paying as little as $50, giving them little incentive to appear in court, critics note.
“Given the emotional and physical trauma that (domestic violence) 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,” said Assemblywoman Celeste Riley, D-Bridgeton, one of the bill’s primary sponsors in that chamber.
Proponents also cite statistics that show domestic violence is a growing global problem. They want to make residents more aware of the issue and help ensure that victims know help is available.
An estimated 1.3 million women in the United States are victims of physical assault by a partner each year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. And it’s estimated that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
The senate’s Judiciary Committee approved the bill Monday. And if it’s passed by the full Senate this Monday, it will head to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk for his consideration.
But it’s not clear when or whether Christie would act on the bill. The measure would first have to be reviewed by his office, and the governor himself has not publicly addressed the matter.
The measure is sponsored in the senate by Democrats Loretta Weinberg of Bergen County and Linda Greenstein of Mercer County.
Besides Riley, other primary sponsors in the Assembly were Democrats Cleopatra Tucker of Newark, Joan Voss of Fort Lee, Ralph Caputo of Belleville and Gordon Johnson of Englewood.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)