ASSEMBLY, No. 1181

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2018 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman† PATRICIA EGAN JONES

District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)

Assemblywoman† GABRIELA M. MOSQUERA

District 4 (Camden and Gloucester)

Assemblywoman† SHAVONDA E. SUMTER

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblywoman† JOANN DOWNEY

District 11 (Monmouth)

Assemblyman† ARTHUR BARCLAY

District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)

Assemblyman† PAUL D. MORIARTY

District 4 (Camden and Gloucester)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman McKeon, Assemblywoman Caride, Assemblyman Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Murphy

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Requires firearms seizure when mental health professional determines patient poses threat of harm to self or others.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

††


An Act concerning mental health professionalsí duty to warn and protect and amending P.L.1991, c.270.

 

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

 

†††† 1.††† Section 1 of P.L.1991, c.270 (C.2A:62A-16) is amended to read as follows:†

†††† 1.††† a. Any person who is licensed in the State of New Jersey to practice psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work, or marriage counseling, whether or not compensation is received or expected, is immune from any civil liability for a patient's violent act against another person or against himself unless the practitioner has incurred a duty to warn and protect the potential victim as set forth in subsection b. of this section and fails to discharge that duty as set forth in subsection c. of this section.†

†††† b.††† A duty to warn and protect is incurred when the following conditions exist:†

†††† (1)†† The patient has communicated to that practitioner a threat of imminent, serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself and the circumstances are such that a reasonable professional in the practitioner's area of expertise would believe the patient intended to carry out the threat; or†

†††† (2)†† The circumstances are such that a reasonable professional in the practitioner's area of expertise would believe the patient intended to carry out an act of imminent, serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself.†

†††† c.†††† A licensed practitioner of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage counseling shall discharge the duty to warn and protect as set forth in subsection b. of this section by doing any one or more of the following:†

†††† (1)†† Arranging for the patient to be admitted voluntarily to a psychiatric unit of a general hospital, a short-term care facility, a special psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric facility, under the provisions of P.L.1987, c.116 (C.30:4-27.1 et seq.);†

†††† (2)†† Initiating procedures for involuntary commitment to treatment of the patient to an outpatient treatment provider, a short-term care facility, a special psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric facility, under the provisions of P.L.1987, c.116 (C.30:4-27.1 et seq.);†

†††† (3)†† Advising a local law enforcement authority of the patient's threat and the identity of the intended victim;†

†††† (4)†† Warning the intended victim of the threat, or, in the case of an intended victim who is under the age of 18, warning the parent or guardian of the intended victim; or†

†††† (5)†† If the patient is under the age of 18 and threatens to commit suicide or bodily injury upon himself, warning the parent or guardian of the patient.†

†††† d.††† A practitioner who is licensed in the State of New Jersey to practice psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, clinical social work or marriage counseling who, in complying with subsection c. of this section, discloses a privileged communication, is immune from civil liability in regard to that disclosure.†

†††† e.†††† In addition to complying with subsection c. of this section, a licensed practitioner shall notify the chief law enforcement officer of the municipality in which the patient resides or the Superintendent of State Police if the patient resides in a municipality that does not have a full-time police department that a duty to warn and protect has been incurred with respect to the patient and shall provide to the chief law enforcement officer or superintendent, as appropriate, the patientís name and other non-clinical identifying information. The chief law enforcement officer or superintendent, as appropriate, shall use that information to ascertain whether the patient has been issued a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or any other permit or license authorizing possession of a firearm.†

†††† If the patient has been issued a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or any other permit or license authorizing possession of a firearm, or if there is information indicating that the patient otherwise may have access to a firearm, the information provided may be used in determining whether the patient has become subject to any of the disabilities set forth in subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:58-3.† If the chief law enforcement officer or superintendent, as appropriate, determines that the patient has become subject to any of the disabilities set forth in subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:58-3, any identification card or permit issued to the patient shall be void and subject to revocation by the Superior Court in accordance with the procedure established in subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:58-3.

†††† If the court determines that the patient is subject to any of the disabilities set forth in subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:58-3 and revokes the patientís firearms identification card in accordance with the procedure established in subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:58-3, the court may order the patient to surrender to the county prosecutor any firearm owned by or accessible to the patient and order the prosecutor to dispose of the firearms.† When the court orders the county prosecutor to dispose of the firearms, the prosecutor shall dispose of the firearms as provided in N.J.S.2C:64-6.†

†††† If the court, upon motion of the prosecutor, finds probable cause that the patient has failed to surrender any firearm, card, or permit, the court may order a search for and removal of these items at any location where the judge has reasonable cause to believe these items are located.† The judge shall state with specificity the reasons and the scope of the search and seizure authorized by the order.†

†††† A firearm surrendered or seized pursuant to this subsection which is not legally owned by the patient shall be immediately returned to the legal owner of the firearm if the legal owner submits a written request to the prosecutor attesting that the patient does not have access to the firearm.††

†††† A law enforcement officer or agency shall not be held liable in any civil action brought by any person for failing to learn of, locate, or seize a firearm pursuant to this subsection.

†††† A patient who is determined to be subject to any of the disabilities established in paragraph (3) of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:58-3 and submits a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey, or other satisfactory proof in accordance with that paragraph shall be entitled to the reinstatement of any firearms purchaser identification cards, permits to purchase a handgun, and any other permit or license authorizing possession of a firearm seized pursuant to this subsection.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.112, s.21)†

 

†††† 2.††† This act shall take effect immediately.†

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill requires the Attorney General to seize a firearm that is in the possession of a person determined by a mental health professional to be likely to engage in conduct that poses a threat of serious harm to the patient or another person.

†††† Specifically, the bill requires licensed medical professionals who incur a duty to warn or protect a potential victim from a patientís violent act to submit to law enforcement officials the patientís name and other non-clinical identifying information for the purpose of determining whether the patient has been issued a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or any other permit or license authorizing possession of a firearm.† Specifically, the bill requires a medical professional to contact the municipal police department in which the patient resides or the Superintendent of State Police if the patient resides in a municipality that does not have a full-time police department.

††††† The bill also requires the chief law enforcement officer or superintendent, as appropriate, to use the information provided by the medical professional to determine whether the patient has been issued a card or permit authorizing possession of a firearm or has access to a firearm.† If the patient has been issued a card or permit, or has access to a firearm the chief law enforcement officer or superintendent may use that information to assist in determining whether the patient has become subject to any of the disabilities established in subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:58-3 that would disqualify the patient from owning a firearm.† A patient who is determined to be prohibited from owning a firearm is to have his or her identification card or permit voided and subject to revocation by the Superior Court in accordance with current law.† The bill permits the court to order the patient to surrender any firearm owned by the patient to the county prosecutor and order the prosecutor to dispose of the firearms.† The court may order a search for and removal of firearms if there is probable cause that the patient has failed to surrender the firearms.† The bill requires the court to state with specificity the reasons for and the scope of the search and seizure.† The bill also provides that a seized or surrendered firearm which is legally owned by a person who is not the patient is to be immediately returned to the legal owner upon a written request sent to the prosecutor attesting that the patient does not have access to the firearm.††

††††† The bill allows a patient who submits to the Superior Court a certificate of a medical doctor or psychiatrist licensed in New Jersey or other satisfactory proof that the patient is no longer suffering from a medical disorder that would interfere with the safe handling of firearms to have the patientís firearms purchaser identification cards or other permit or license reinstated.††

††††† The bill clarifies that a licensed medical professional who discloses a privileged communication in complying with the billís provisions is immune from civil liability in regard to that disclosure.