Assemblywoman NANCY F. MUNOZ
District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)
Requires criminal background check for name change and prohibits persons convicted of certain crimes from changing their name.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning an action for change of name, amending N.J.S.2A:52-1 and supplementing chapter 52 of Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S.2A:52-1 is amended to read as follows:
2A:52-1. a. Any person may institute an action in Superior Court, for authority to assume another name.
b. The complaint for a change of name shall be accompanied by a sworn affidavit stating the applicant's name, date of birth, and social security number[, whether or not the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime, and whether any criminal charges are pending against him and, if such convictions or pending charges exist, shall provide such details in connection therewith sufficient to readily identify the matter referred to]. The sworn affidavit shall also recite that the action for a change of name is not being instituted for purposes of avoiding or obstructing criminal prosecution or for avoiding creditors or perpetrating a criminal or civil fraud.
c. If the criminal history record background check performed pursuant to section 2 of P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) indicates that criminal charges are pending, the court shall require the applicant [shall] to serve a copy of the complaint and affidavit upon any State or county prosecuting authority responsible for the prosecution of any pending charges.
d. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he knowingly gives or causes to be given false information under this section.
(cf: P.L.1993, c.228, s.1)
2. (New section) a. Upon receipt of a complaint for a change of name, the court shall request the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety to conduct a criminal history record background check of the applicant.
b. For the purposes of this section, "criminal history record background check" means a determination of whether an applicant has a criminal record by cross-referencing the applicant's name and fingerprints with those on file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services and the State Bureau of Identification in the Division of State Police.
c. Upon the court's request for a criminal history record background check of the applicant, the State Police shall examine its own files and arrange for a similar examination of federal criminal records. The information obtained as a result of any such check shall be forwarded to the court.
d. The criminal history record background check shall be performed only upon certification by the court that the applicant has consented in writing to the check. The consent shall be in a manner and form prescribed by the court and shall include, but not be limited to, the signature, name, address and fingerprints of the applicant.
e. The applicant shall be responsible for the cost of the background check required by this section.
3. (New section) a. An applicant whose criminal history record background check reveals a conviction for a violent crime as that term is defined in subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.117 (C.2C:43-7.2) shall not be authorized to assume another name pursuant to N.J.S.2A:52-1 unless the request for the name change is made for religious reasons.
b. If the criminal history record background check required pursuant to section 2 of P.L. , c. (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) indicates that the applicant has been convicted of a violent crime as defined in subsection a. of this section, the court shall notify the victim, or an immediate family member of the victim, of the applicant's request for a name change.
4. This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month following enactment.
This bill requires persons who request a name change to undergo a criminal background check. The bill also prohibits applicants who have been convicted of violent crimes from changing their names.
Under the bill, a person who applies to the Superior Court for the authority to assume another name would be required by the court to submit to a criminal history record background check. The State Police would conduct the background check by cross-referencing the applicant's name and fingerprints with those on file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Identification Division and the State Bureau of Identification in the Division of State Police. The bill prohibits a background check from being performed without the applicant's consent. Applicants would be required to assume the cost of the check.
The bill also would prohibit the court from authorizing an applicant who has been convicted of a violent crime to assume another name, unless the applicant establishes that the request is for religious reasons. Violent crimes under the bill include: murder; manslaughter; vehicular homicide; aggravated assault; disarming a law enforcement officer; kidnapping; sexual assault; robbery; carjacking; aggravated arson; burglary; extortion; terrorism; first degree racketeering; and firearms trafficking.
Also under the bill, the court would be required to notify the victim, or a member of the victim's immediate family, when an applicant who has been convicted of a violent crime requests a name change.