Most people have seen the video of former NFL player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée hard enough to knock her unconscious and dragging her from an elevator. Those images, along with Rice’s high-profile status, have moved domestic violence to the forefront of news coverage and media discussion. Now, lawmakers are discussing the issue. Domestic violence lawyers in Essex County report that New Jersey legislators have introduced several bills pertaining to domestic violence in the last month, many of which contain law changes and policy updates.
Bill S-2599: Pretrial Program
One of the newest bills for state legislators to consider is S-2559, which was introduced on October 27, 2014. This bill would make it more difficult for individuals who have been charged with domestic violence crimes to avoid serving jail sentences by gaining admission to a pretrial intervention program. S-2559 comes on the heels of Rice’s admission to such a pretrial intervention program—a move that has been criticized by many as a way for the high-profile player to avoid time in jail.
Admission to pretrial diversionary programs is intended for first-time, nonviolent offenders who may benefit from rehabilitation and supervision. Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault for his attack on his then-fiancée. An offense of that degree could be punished with a maximum of five years in prison; however, the pretrial program allows a period of supervision as an alternative for first-time offenders like Rice. If Rice maintains a clean record for one year following his sentencing and if he is compliant with all other conditions of the program, the third-degree charge could be dismissed.
Pretrial programs sometimes benefit those who have been charged with a domestic violence-related crime, particularly those who have genuinely made mistakes in the heat of the moment. Domestic violence is always a tragedy that needs to be eradicated from relationships and marriages, but passionate arguments and disputes can become violent in a moment when one person loses his or her temper. Still in many isolated situations, a person might truly be rehabilitated after probation and a period of good behavior, and avoiding a criminal record can prove to be very helpful to the individual as he or she progresses through life.
The new bill also seeks to institute several changes to the state’s existing laws on domestic violence. People who have been charged with aggravated assault against a person who is protected under the state’s laws—a spouse, former spouse, household member or people with whom the accused has a child—would not be able to easily avoid imprisonment. Additionally, the crimes that can be considered domestic violence (homicide, kidnapping, terroristic threats, false imprisonment, stalking, sexual assault, and harassment) would be expanded to include robbery, criminal coercion, and contempt, as in many instances, these crimes go hand in hand with instances of abusive relationships.
The Gorman Law Firm represents clients who have been charged with domestic violence-related crimes. For more details regarding potential law changes or to discuss your case, contact Scott Gorman, a domestic violence lawyer in Essex County, today.
Published in Categories: Domestic Violence