SENATE, No. 2437







Sponsored by:


District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)


District 32 (Hudson)






     Directs Office of Public Defender to provide legal representation for certain criminal contempt violations.



     As introduced.


An Act concerning representation by the Office of the Public Defender in certain domestic violence contempt violation cases and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.


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


     1.  The Public Defender shall, in the manner prescribed by P.L.1967, c. 43 (C. 2A:158A-1 et seq.), provide representation to any indigent defendant charged under subsection b. of
N.J.S.2C:29-9 with contempt for the violation of an order entered pursuant to the provisions of the “Prevention of Domestic violence Act of 1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et seq.). 

     Orders entered pursuant to paragraphs (3), (4), (5), (8), and (9) of subsection b. of section 13 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-29) or substantially similar orders entered under the laws of another state or the United States shall be excluded from the provisions of this section.


     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.





     This bill would expand the duties of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) to include providing legal representation for indigent defendants charged with certain contempt violations for certain domestic violence orders.

     Under current law, the OPD is charged with providing legal representation to any indigent defendant charged with committing an indictable offense, and any person charged with a disorderly persons offense or with the violation of any law, ordinance or regulation of a penal nature where there is a likelihood that the persons charged, if convicted, will be subject to imprisonment or any other consequence of magnitude.  A person charged with contempt under N.J.S.A.2C:29-9 for violating any provision in an order entered under the provisions of the "Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991," P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-17 et al.) or an order entered under a substantially similar law of another state, could be convicted of a crime of the fourth degree, or a disorderly persons offense, which could result in imprisonment, or other “consequence of magnitude.”

     This bill would direct the OPD to provide representation to any indigent defendant charged with a violation of the contempt statute for certain domestic violence order violations. 

     Currently, certain domestic violence orders do not subject a violator to a charge of contempt, which include orders relating to parenting time, orders requiring the defendant to pay to the victim monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the act of domestic violence, order requiring the defendant to receive professional domestic violence counseling, and orders requiring that the defendant make or continue to make rent or mortgage payments on the residence.  Under this bill, a violation of these orders will not entitle a person to representation by the Public Defender.

     This bill would implement recommendation 29 of the report of the Reconvened Joint Committee on Criminal Justice issued in June 2023.