ASSEMBLY, No. 660

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  NANCY F. MUNOZ

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman  ANNETTE QUIJANO

District 20 (Union)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Tucker, Assemblyman Caputo, Assemblywomen Caride and Handlin

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Concerns stalking and related restraining order protections for adoptive children and their adoptive parents victimized by persons whose parental rights to the adoptive children have been terminated.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning stalking and related restraining order protections for certain victimized persons, amending P.L.1992, c.209 and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 1 of P.L.1992, c.209 (C.2C:12-10) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a.  As used in this act:

     (1)   "Course of conduct" means repeatedly maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a person; directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, or communicating to or about, a person, or interfering with a person's property; repeatedly committing harassment against a person; or repeatedly conveying, or causing to be conveyed, verbal or written threats or threats conveyed by any other means of communication or threats implied by conduct or a combination thereof directed at or toward a person.  “Course of conduct” shall include any of the aforementioned acts and any repeated communications or attempts to communicate, by any means, with an adoptive child under the age of 18, made by a person whose parental rights for that child have been terminated, and being done contrary to the instructions of that child’s adoptive parent.

     (2)   "Repeatedly" means on two or more occasions.

     (3)   "Emotional distress" means significant mental suffering or distress.

     (4)   "Cause a reasonable person to fear" means to cause fear which a reasonable victim, similarly situated, would have under the circumstances.

     b.    A person is guilty of stalking, a crime of the fourth degree, if he purposefully or knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.

     c.     A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting the behavior.

     d.    A person who commits a second or subsequent offense of stalking against the same victim is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

     e.     A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he commits the crime of stalking while serving a term of imprisonment or while on parole or probation as the result of a conviction for any indictable offense under the laws of this State, any other state or the United States.

     f.     This act shall not apply to conduct which occurs during organized group picketing.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.28, s.1)

 

     2.    (New section)  a.  If a person whose parental rights for a child have been terminated commits one or more of the following acts upon a parent who has adopted that child, a court may order, as a condition of pre-trial release or in a judgment of conviction, that the person refrain from any contact with the adoptive parent:

      (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)   

      b.  Restraints that a court may impose pursuant to subsection a. of this section may include:

      (1)  restraining the defendant from entering the residence, property, school, or place of employment of the adoptive parent and requiring the defendant to stay away from any place specifically named and frequented regularly by the adoptive parent;

      (2)  restraining the defendant from making contact with the adoptive parent, including forbidding the defendant from personally or through an agent initiating any communication likely to cause annoyance or alarm including, but not limited to, personal, written, or telephone contact, or contact via electronic device, with the adoptive parent, the adoptive parent's employers, employees, or fellow workers, or others with whom communication would be likely to cause annoyance or alarm to the adoptive parent.  As used in this paragraph, "communication" shall have the same meaning as defined in subsection q. of N.J.S.2C:1-14; and

      (3)  any other relief necessary to protect the adoptive parent at the discretion of the court, including but not limited to requiring the defendant to pay to the victim monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the act or requiring the defendant to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

      c.  (1) Restraints imposed by a court pursuant to this section shall remain in effect for the period of time fixed by the court, which shall not be longer than the maximum term of imprisonment, incarceration, or probation allowed by law for the offense for which the person subject to the order was convicted.

      (2) When the court imposes restraints pursuant to this section and the defendant is sentenced to any form of probationary supervision or participation in the Intensive Supervision Program, the court shall make compliance with the restraints an express condition of probation or the Intensive Supervision Program, and this condition shall not dissolve sooner than the conclusion of the probationary supervision or participation in the Intensive Supervision Program. 

      (3) When the court imposes restraints pursuant to this section and the person is also sentenced to a term of incarceration, compliance with the terms and conditions of the restraints shall be made an express condition of the person's release from confinement or incarceration on parole, and this condition shall not dissolve sooner than the conclusion of that period of parole. 

      d.   Notice of any restraints imposed pursuant to this section shall be sent by the clerk of the court or other person designated by the court to appropriate law enforcement agencies.  The restraints ordered by the court shall be in effect throughout the State, and shall be enforced by all law enforcement officers.

      e.   A violation by the convicted defendant of any restraints imposed shall constitute an offense under subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:29-9 and each order which includes restraints imposed pursuant to this section shall so state.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month next following enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

      This bill concerns stalking and related restraining order protections with regard to situations involving adoptive children, their adoptive parents, and the persons whose parental rights for those adoptive children have been terminated.

     First, the bill would amend provisions under the current law with respect to stalking in order to make the crime of stalking and related restraining order protections expressly applicable to situations involving contact or attempted contact between an adoptive child and former parent whose parental rights have been terminated, which has occurred or is occurring contrary to the instructions of the child’s adoptive parent.  By doing so, the bill would expressly make such unwanted contact a crime of the third or fourth degree, depending upon various circumstances associated with the stalking.  A crime of the third degree is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both; a crime of the fourth degree is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

     By amending the current law’s stalking provisions, the bill would also permit an adoptive parent to obtain a temporary restraining order against the person whose parental rights to the child have been terminated.  See P.L.1999, c.47, s.2 (C:2C:12-10.2).  Such an order could also be converted into a permanent restraining order upon a judgment of conviction against the person based on a conviction for the crime of stalking.  See P.L.1996, c.39, s.3 (C.2C:12-10.1).

     The bill would also establish restraining order protections for the parent of an adoptive child who is victimized by harassing or violent acts by the person whose parental rights for that adoptive child have been terminated.  The bill presents a range of criminal acts that could trigger the imposing of restraints, including assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, false imprisonment, harassment, and stalking.

     Restraints that a court may impose pursuant to the bill include:

      (1) restraining the defendant from entering the residence, property, school, or place of employment of the adoptive parent and requiring the defendant to stay away from any place specifically named and frequented regularly by the adoptive parent;

      (2) restraining the defendant from making contact with the adoptive parent, including forbidding the defendant from personally or through an agent initiating any communication likely to cause annoyance or alarm including, but not limited to, personal, written, or telephone contact, or contact via electronic device, with the adoptive parent, the adoptive parent's employers, employees, or fellow workers, or others with whom communication would be likely to cause annoyance or alarm to the adoptive parent; and

      (3) any other relief necessary to protect the adoptive parent at the discretion of the court, including but not limited to requiring the defendant to pay to the victim monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the act or requiring the defendant to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

      Restraints imposed by a court pursuant to the bill shall remain in effect for the period of time fixed by the court, which shall not be longer than the maximum term of imprisonment, incarceration, or probation allowed by law for the offense for which the person subject to the order was convicted.

      When the court imposes restraints pursuant to the bill and the defendant is sentenced to any form of probationary supervision or participation in the Intensive Supervision Program, the court shall make compliance with the restraints an express condition of probation or the Intensive Supervision Program, and this condition shall not dissolve sooner than the conclusion of the probationary supervision or participation in the Intensive Supervision Program. 

      When the court imposes restraints pursuant to the bill and the person is also sentenced to a term of incarceration, compliance with the terms and conditions of the restraints shall be made an express condition of the person's release from confinement or incarceration on parole, and this condition shall not dissolve sooner than the conclusion of that period of parole. 

      Notice of any restraints imposed pursuant to the bill shall be sent by the clerk of the court or other person designated by the court to appropriate law enforcement agencies.  The restraints ordered by the court shall be in effect throughout the State, and shall be enforced by all law enforcement officers.

     A violation of any restraints imposed pursuant to the bill would constitute a criminal act of contempt, and each order including restraints would so state.  Criminal contempt is graded as a crime of the fourth degree (term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, fine of up to $10,000, or both).