New Jersey's 10th Legislative District

Senator Jim Holzapfel

Senator Jim Holzapfel

Ciesla, Wolfe & Holzapfel Legislation to Target Repeat Domestic Violence Offenders

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Legislation Prompted by Tragic Murder of 30-Year-Old Social Worker

Prompted by the murder of a 30-year-old Ocean County social worker, 10th District legislators, Senator Andy Ciesla and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Jim Holzapfel, have introduced legislation to provide further protection against those who repeatedly commit acts of domestic violence.

The bill, S-1331/A-1295, would prevent defendants who are arrested a second or subsequent time for contempt of a domestic violence restraining order from being released on bail while awaiting trial. Instead, in these cases a Superior Court judge would hold an emergent hearing and make a final disposition of the charge within 72 hours of the arrest. The bill also provides that the municipal court would not have jurisdiction in these matters.

The legislators hope to avoid another tragedy like the one in which Letizia “Lisa” Zindell, 30, of Toms River, was killed in August by her ex-fiancĂ© who had been released from custody the day before despite violating a restraining order several times. Zindell was a social worker for the state Division of Youth and Family Services working toward her second master’s degree.

“The murder of Lisa Zindell is a clear example that the safety of those who secure restraining orders from the courts and who are then the subject of repeated violations are in dire need of a more intense judicial review and protection even if that results in some inconvenience and limited detention of the person violating the restraining order, ” stated Senator Ciesla.

Under this legislation, neither the municipal court nor Superior court would set bail for these second offenders. Instead, the defendant would remain in custody and a Superior Court judge would hold an emergent hearing and make a final disposition on the charge which would be required to take place within 72 hours of the arrest.

“There is no reason why repeat offenders of heinous crimes should be allowed to roam the streets and continue to subject their victims to the same kinds of abuse, or even worse, ” added Assemblyman Wolfe. “We should consider every option to protect victims of domestic violence in hopes of preventing another tragic loss of life.”

Under the existing law, a defendant who is convicted of a second domestic violence contempt offense must serve a minimum of 30 days in jail. This latest measure provides additional safety to the victim of domestic violence.

“Under the attached bill that I have filed in the Legislature, there must be an actual court hearing at the Superior Court level whenever a defendant is arrested for a second or subsequent violation of a restraining order, ” continued Assemblyman Holzapfel. “If a court finds that there is substantial evidence to support the charge of contempt because the restraining order was violated and that the defendant would constitute a substantial danger to the alleged victim then bail will be denied and that person will immediately begin to serve the mandatory 30 day sentence.”

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