Senator LINDA R. GREENSTEIN
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Senator BARBARA BUONO
District 18 (Middlesex)
Creates offense of impairing communications, which would constitute domestic violence in certain circumstances.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act creating the offense of impairing communications and concerning domestic violence, supplementing chapter 13 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, and amending P.L.1991, c.261.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. (New section) A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, with the purpose to prevent another person from making a communication to seek assistance to avoid being unlawfully restrained or to protect any person’s health, safety or welfare, he knowingly denies, impedes or impairs that person’s means of communication. For purposes of this section, “communication” has the meaning set forth in subsection q. of N.J.S.2C:1-14.
2. Section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19) is amended to read as follows:
3. As used in this act:
a. "Domestic violence" means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts inflicted upon a person protected under this act by an adult or an emancipated minor:
(1) Homicide N.J.S.2C:11-1 et seq.
(2) Assault N.J.S.2C:12-1
(3) Terroristic threats N.J.S.2C:12-3
(4) Kidnapping N.J.S.2C:13-1
(5) Criminal restraint N.J.S.2C:13-2
(6) False imprisonment N.J.S.2C:13-3
(7) Sexual assault N.J.S.2C:14-2
(8) Criminal sexual contact N.J.S.2C:14-3
(9) Lewdness N.J.S.2C:14-4
(10) Criminal mischief N.J.S.2C:17-3
(11) Burglary N.J.S.2C:18-2
(12) Criminal trespass N.J.S.2C:18-3
(13) Harassment N.J.S.2C:33-4
(14) Stalking P.L.1992, c.209 (C.2C:12-10)
(15) Impairing communications P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).
When one or more of these acts is inflicted by an unemancipated minor upon a person protected under this act, the occurrence shall not constitute "domestic violence," but may be the basis for the filing of a petition or complaint pursuant to the provisions of section 11 of P.L.1982, c.77 (C.2A:4A-30).
b. "Law enforcement agency" means a department, division, bureau, commission, board or other authority of the State or of any political subdivision thereof which employs law enforcement officers.
c. "Law enforcement officer" means a person whose public duties include the power to act as an officer for the detection, apprehension, arrest and conviction of offenders against the laws of this State.
d. "Victim of domestic violence" means a person protected under this act and shall include any person who is 18 years of age or older or who is an emancipated minor and who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present or former household member. "Victim of domestic violence" also includes any person, regardless of age, who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has a child in common, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common, if one of the parties is pregnant. "Victim of domestic violence" also includes any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.
e. "Emancipated minor" means a person who is under 18 years of age but who has been married, has entered military service, has a child or is pregnant or has been previously declared by a court or an administrative agency to be emancipated.
(cf: P.L.1994, c.94, s.1)
3. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill creates the crime of impairing communication and amends the definition of “domestic violence” in N.J.S.A.2C:25-19 to provide that impairing communication may be domestic violence under certain conditions.
Under the provisions of section 1 of the bill, a person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, with the purpose to prevent another person from making a communication to seek assistance to avoid being unlawfully restrained or to protect any person’s health, safety or welfare, he knowingly denies, impedes or impairs that person’s means of communication. “Communication,” as used in section 1 of the bill, means any form of communication made by any means, including, but not limited to, any verbal or written communication, communications conveyed by any electronic communication device, which includes but is not limited to, a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric or photo-optical system, telephone, including a cordless, cellular or digital telephone, computer, video recorder, fax machine, pager, or any other means of transmitting voice or data and communications made by sign or gesture.
Section 2 of the bill adds to the list of enumerated acts constituting domestic violence the crime of impairing communication created by section 1 of the bill. Under current law, the court may find that a person has committed domestic violence if it finds he has committed a particular enumerated criminal act, such as assault, criminal restraint or criminal trespass, against a present or former household member or other person protected by the domestic violence statutes.