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More protection for N.J. domestic violence victims in Senate’s hands

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Anyone charged with domestic violence or violating a restraining order will have a harder time making bail, if the state Senate approves a series of bills already OK’d by the Assembly.

The bill would add the two offenses to the list of first- and second-degree crimes that require someone charged and booked to post full bail (instead of 10 percent) or put up property to secure a bond.

It also imposes mandatory bail minimums of $2,500 for disorderly persons offenses and $5,000 for domestic violence.

The package of bills looks to bolster the protection and broaden the rights of domestic violence victims in New Jersey. Not only wives and girlfriends are involved: Roughly 15 percent of domestic violence victims are children and the elderly.

One of the bills broadens victims’ ability to use self-defense to protect themselves, allowing attorneys to show judges or juries prior restraining orders as supporting evidence of justifiable force.

The third measure, sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, extends protection for domestic abuse victims who must break a lease to escape a violent relationship, preventing future landlords from renting to them.

Finally, the measures move domestic violence cases from municipal court to the state level in county courthouses, to be heard by Superior Court judges.

“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-3, of Bridgeton, who sponsored the bail bill.

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