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Bail Bonds: Playing a Role in Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In an effort to send a strong message to domestic violence offenders, the New Jersey senate recently passed a bill to make things tougher on violators. No longer can defendants post a 10% cash bond.  Instead they will have to pay the full amount in cash or a get a surety bond. 

By using surety bail as an option, this bill is taking a step in the right direction in protecting victims of domestic violence.  When it comes to ensuring the appearance of defendants released pretrial, commercial surety bail is the most effective form of release with a 97% appearance rate.  When the defendant show up in court, the victim gets a chance a justice.  Last year through the ExpertBail network over 3.5 million court appearances were ensured translating to over 360,000 victims of crime getting their chance at justice.  Read the article below.

The Record: Protecting Women
Friday, September 30th

DOMESTIC ABUSE is about control. Deny a person her fundamental rights, like when she is allowed to leave the house, when she eats or what she wears; instill fear by hitting or threatening to hit, and a partnership turns into a dictatorship.

A woman who lives with an abusive partner is always in danger. But a woman who manages to leave that relationship is in even more danger, because she has turned the situation on its head. She has taken control.

Restraining orders are a way to prevent abusers from continuing to terrorize their former partners, and they're a good solution — but only as long as the subject of the order abides by it. Abusers don't always follow the law. To make matters worse, violating a restraining order is a fourth-degree crime. That means defendants can be released on bail once they pay as little as 10 percent of the amount in cash. In some cases, that amounts to a measly $50.

The state Senate this week unanimously passed a bill to make it tougher for violators of domestic violence restraining orders to be released from custody. The Assembly passed the legislation last October. It is now up to Governor Christie to sign it. We urge him to.

Should A-1491 become law, defendants will no longer be allowed to post 10 percent cash bail, because violating a domestic violence restraining order would become a crime with bail restrictions. To be released, a person would have to pay the full amount in cash, get a surety bond or post a bail bond backed by real estate in New Jersey equal in value to the bail amount plus $20,000. Those who could not scrounge up the money would not be back out on the street, taunting their victims or blowing off court appearances.

It's an important bill, not only because it would better protect victims of domestic violence but because it would send the crucial message that in terms of bail, society treats someone who commits a domestic abuse crime as seriously as someone charged with murder, manslaughter or kidnapping, other crimes with bail restrictions.

Police reported more than 73,000 domestic violence offenses in New Jersey in 2009, the latest year for which data are available. They made more than 3,000 arrests involving violations of restraining orders. While New Jersey is tough on domestic violence, there's always more to be done.

Another bill, A-2891, would not allow a landlord to break a rental agreement, refuse to rent or fail to renew a rental agreement with someone because the tenant is the victim of stalking, sexual assault or domestic violence. Nor could the landlord refuse to rent to someone who had previously broken a lease to escape violence at home. That bill passed the Assembly in May and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It, too, should be made law.

All the vigilance and action in the world will not eradicate violence between intimate partners. But they will go a long way. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. An appropriate time to sign these bills into law.


Original article: The Record: Protecting Women