Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  DAVID C. RUSSO

District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)






     Clarifies that “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991” covers elder abuse in domestic settings.



     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.


An Act concerning domestic violence against the elderly, and amending P.L.1991, c.261.


     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


     1.  Section 2 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-18) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    The Legislature finds and declares that domestic violence is a serious crime against society; that there are thousands of persons in this State who are regularly beaten, tortured and in some cases even killed by their spouses or cohabitants; that a significant number of women who are assaulted are pregnant; that victims of domestic violence come from all social and economic backgrounds and ethnic groups; that there is a positive correlation between spousal abuse and child abuse; and that children, even when they are not themselves physically assaulted, suffer deep and lasting emotional effects from exposure to domestic violence.  It is therefore, the intent of the Legislature to assure the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse the law can provide. 

     The Legislature further finds and declares that the health and welfare of some of its most vulnerable citizens, the elderly and disabled, are at risk because of incidents of reported and unreported domestic violence, abuse and neglect which are known to include acts which victimize the elderly and disabled emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially; because of age, disabilities or infirmities, this group of citizens frequently must rely on the aid and support of others; while the institutionalized elderly are protected under P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-1 et seq.), elderly and disabled adults in noninstitutionalized, or private residential or other community settings may find themselves victimized by family members or others, upon whom in many cases they feel compelled to depend. 

     The Legislature further finds and declares that emotional, psychological, and physical violence against the elderly and disabled, including criminal neglect of the elderly and disabled under section 1 of P.L.1989, c.23 (C.2C:24-8), must be recognized and addressed on an equal basis as violence against spouses and children in order to fulfill our responsibility as a society to protect those who are less able to protect themselves. 

     The Legislature further finds and declares that even though many of the existing criminal statutes are applicable to acts of domestic violence, previous societal attitudes concerning domestic violence have affected the response of our law enforcement and judicial systems, resulting in these acts receiving different treatment from similar crimes when they occur in a domestic context.  The Legislature finds that battered adults presently experience substantial difficulty in gaining access to protection from the judicial system, particularly due to that system's inability to generate a prompt response in an emergency situation. 

     It is the intent of the Legislature to stress that the primary duty of a law enforcement officer when responding to a domestic violence call is to enforce the laws allegedly violated and to protect the victim. Further, it is the responsibility of the courts to protect victims of violence that occurs in a family or family-like setting by providing access to both emergent and long-term civil and criminal remedies and sanctions, and by ordering those remedies and sanctions that are available to assure the safety of the victims and the public.  To that end, the Legislature encourages the training of all police and judicial personnel in the procedures and enforcement of this act, and about the social and psychological context in which domestic violence occurs; and it further encourages the broad application of the remedies available under this act in the civil and criminal courts of this State.  It is further intended that the official response to domestic violence shall communicate the attitude that violent behavior will not be excused or tolerated, and shall make clear the fact that the existing criminal laws and civil remedies created under this act will be enforced without regard to the fact that the violence grows out of a domestic situation. 

(cf: P.L.1991, c.261, s.2)


     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) Criminal coercion    N.J.S.2C:13-5

     (16) Robbery    N.J.S.2C:15-1

     (17) Contempt of a domestic violence order pursuant to subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9 that constitutes a crime or disorderly persons offense

     (18) Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person protected under the "Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991," P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et al.)

     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, including an elderly person other than an institutionalized elderly person subject to protections under P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-1 et seq.), or any person 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 household member or was at any time a 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.2015, c.98, s.2)


     3.  This act shall take effect immediately.





     This bill clarifies that the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991,” P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et al.), covers various forms of physical and non-physical elder abuse in domestic settings.  Although the existing findings and declarations to the act reference the Legislature’s intention of addressing elder abuse (and abuse against disabled persons) “on an equal basis as violence against spouses and children,” the bill updates the findings and declarations to expressly reference elder abuse by current or former household members in its many possible forms; that is, all such “emotional, psychological, and physical [domestic] violence” against the elderly.  It also updates the existing definition of “victim of domestic violence” under the act, which currently covers “any person who is 18 years of age or older,” to expressly include a reference to an elderly person in a domestic setting, who is not otherwise protected pursuant to P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-1 et seq.) as an institutionalized elderly person in a public or private facility or institution.