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New Jersey State Senators want tougher domestic violence laws

Readers in New Jersey may be interested to hear about some surprising statistics State Senator Barbara Buono recently conveyed. One in four women and one in seven men will become the victim of domestic violence at some point in their lives. New Jersey police have also reported that in 2010, there were over 74,000 domestic violence offenses reported, and 38 of those resulted in a murder. Buono and other senators are now calling for the adoption of three bills that they believe will modernize domestic violence laws in New Jersey.

The first bill would allow judges to order the use of electronic monitoring of those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a final restraining order. The bill is known as "Heather's Law" in honor of Heather Newman, a New Jersey woman murdered by her ex-husband in December after suffering from domestic problems such as physical and emotional abuse.

The second bill would require cell phone service providers in the Garden State to educate their customers on how to deactivate GPS-based location services on their phones. This bill was in response to the reporting of abusers stalking their victims of domestic violence by using the GPS capabilities on their cell phones.

The last bill would create a new crime called "impairing communication." This crime would be defined as any person who knowingly denies or impedes another's attempt to seek assistance in protecting their health, safety or well-being.

If passed, these bills will join other domestic violence laws such as the Violence Against Women Act. Under VAWA, passed in 1996 under federal law, an intimate partner is a spouse, former spouse, a person who lives with or has lived with the victim, or person who shares a child in common with the victim.

While it is unknown whether or not the New Jersey bills will be passed, the VAWA is in full effect. It will be interesting to see how these proposed bills might interact with the VAWA Act, which has already strongly impacted existing state laws governing domestic abuse.

Source: New Jersey 101.5, "NJ Needs Tougher Domestic Violence Laws, Says Senators," Kevin McArdle, Sept. 14, 2012

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