Domestic Violence Amendments: Firearms

by | May 30, 2017 | Blog, Criminal Law, Law Reform and Amendments, New Jersey

Domestic ViolenceThe recent changes to the domestic violence statutes regarding firearms require that any identification card and permit that has been issued to be immediately revoked and requires the court to establish a process for notifying the appropriate authorities of the revocation. It also requires a law enforcement officer to whom weapons are surrendered to provide the defendant with a receipt naming the defendant, the surrender date, and description of a surrendered item, and requiring the defendant to provide a copy of the receipt to the prosecutor within 48 hours. Defendants are required by the bill to attest under penalty that they surrendered or do not possess a firearm. The court is permitted to order a search for and removal of firearms if there is probable cause that the defendant has failed to surrender firearms and is required to state with specificity the reasons for and the scope of the search and seizure.

The bill also protects domestic violence victims by specifying that the plaintiff may provide information concerning firearms to which the defendant has access, including the location of these firearms, if known, on a form to be prescribed by the Administrative Director of the Courts. The form is to also clarify the confidential nature of this information.

Note that the “confidential nature” of the above-referenced information is directly at odds with a defendant’s constitutional right to exculpatory impeachment evidence. This creates a significant issue in cases in which the alleged victim provides false or contradictory information in the form.

Under the bill, an order for a temporary or final restraining order is to include notice to the defendant of the penalties for a violation of any provision of the order, including but not limited to the penalties for contempt of court and unlawful possession of a firearm or other weapon.