In 2018, the New Jersey legislature introduced a bill expanding the domestic violence law to include the attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the predicate domestic violence acts already enumerated in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. New Jersey law protects victims of violence that occurs between a spouse, former spouse, household member or individuals involved in a dating relationship. The proposed change is an important provision that is intended to clarify the scope of the law in New Jersey.
Existing law defines “domestic violence” as the occurrence of one or more enumerated acts including: homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, stalking, criminal coercion, robbery, contempt of a domestic violence order that constitutes a crime or disorderly persons offense, or any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the domestic violence statutes. However, the definition of “domestic violence” does not specifically include an attempt or conspiracy to commit an enumerated act.
The new bill is in response to a court decision which vacated a domestic violence surcharge assessed against a defendant who had been convicted of attempted murder. Under New Jersey law, a person convicted of an act of domestic violence is subject to a surcharge of $100 payable to the State for use by the Department of Human Services to fund grants for domestic violence prevention, training and assessment. The Court held that the defendant was not subject to the surcharge because attempted murder is not included in the enumerated crimes and offenses as defined by the domestic violence statute.
Once passed, the new law will expressly state that attempts and conspiracy to commit one of the covered acts does constitute domestic violence under the law. This change offers important protection to victims, potentially making it easier to get a temporary restraining order, or ‘TRO’ against a defendant. In the case of defendants who may be falsely accused, it means additional risks to their personal and parental rights. Regardless of the circumstances, it is critical that both parties have experienced attorneys to protect and advocate for their interests.
For more information, read our related post – 3 Reasons You Need Legal Representation in a Domestic Violence Case.
If you are the victim of domestic violence or you have been accused, contact us for consultation today.