Trenton – In a move to strengthen protections for victims of stalking and online harassment, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Vin Gopal which would allow restraining orders for situations in which domestic violence statutes do not apply.
“While most stalkers tend to be current or former partners, in nearly one fifth of cases the perpetrator is a stranger. Stalking can go on for months or even years, forcing people to live in fear with no legal recourse until the situation escalates,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer), chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. “This legislation will empower victims to take legal action and obtain a restraining order, providing them with a crucial tool to proactively protect themselves before a stalking situation escalates.”
The bill, S-1517, would authorize the issuance of restraining orders in situations where the domestic violence statutes do not apply because the victim lacks a prior or existing spousal, household or dating relationship with the offender.
“As technology advances and further permeates our society, we see more and more instances of cyber-harassment that pose real world danger,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Persistent harassment online can cause individuals to feel unsafe going about their daily life and unfortunately, under current law there is only so much that can be done. This legislation would offer one more layer of protection and provide victims with an avenue to raise these concerns and take action before it’s too late.”
Under the bill, individuals would be able to seek a restraining order against someone they do not know or who may be a casual acquaintance in response to instances of stalking, cyber-harassment, sexual assault or criminal sexual contact.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 10-0.