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Singleton Bill to Monitor Domestic Violence Offenders Advances

TRENTON – In an effort to better enforce domestic violence restraining orders and prevent further violence, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton that would establish a four-year pilot program in Ocean County for the electronic monitoring of certain domestic violence offenders. 

The bill, S-1385, is inspired by Letizia “Lisa” Zindell of Toms River, who was murdered by her former fiancé a day after he was released from jail for the violation of a restraining order Ms. Zindell had filed against him. Senator Singleton has a long history of advocating for this legislation, including during his time as an Assemblyman when former Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill in 2014. 

“Over twenty states have laws similar to this bill, enabling electronic monitoring for domestic violence offenders and granting the victims of domestic violence greater protection from their abusers,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “The technology to enable this monitoring clearly exists, and it is long past time that New Jersey utilized it for the protection of victims and the prevention of more tragic crimes.” 

The legislation would establish a four-year pilot program in Ocean County that would enable the electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders convicted of contempt of a domestic violence restraining order. The court would determine whether or not electronic monitoring would serve as sufficient deterrent to prevent a defendant from further injuring victims, and electronic monitoring would only be ordered with the informed consent of the victim. 

The bill would additionally enable the court to order the defendant to pay the costs and expenses related to electronic monitoring and victim notification, subject to the defendant’s ability to pay. Defendants would be obligated to pay a monitoring fee of $250, unless the fee is waived by the court due to a defendant’s extreme financial hardship.

The bill would also provide for additional civil penalties for domestic violence offenders. This would include a penalty of $200 for any person found by the court to have committed an act of domestic violence, unless the defendant exhibits extreme financial hardship. The court would also be required to asses a $250 civil penalty on any person convicted of a crime or offense involving domestic violence, or convicted of contempt of a domestic violence order, unless the person was previously assessed for the monitoring fee.

S-1385 was advanced by the Committee in a unanimous vote. 

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