Yesterday, Senate Bill No. 1447 passed the Senate by a 36-0 vote. The bill is now headed directly to the Assembly for a floor vote.
This NJFOP-initiated bill that is co-sponsored by Senators Linda Greenstein and Dawn Adieggo prohibits persons, State and local agencies, and businesses from posting or publishing on the Internet the home addresses or unpublished home telephone numbers of law enforcement officers and retired law enforcement officers.
The bill, which was amended in committee, makes it a crime for a person to knowingly, with purpose to expose another to harassment or risk of harm to life or property, or in reckless disregard of the probability of this exposure, to post or publish on the Internet the home address or unpublished telephone number of a law enforcement officer, retired law enforcement officer, or spouse or child residing with that officer. If the person recklessly violates this provision, it is a crime of the fourth degree. A fourth degree crime is punishable by a prison term of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. If the person purposefully violates this provision it is a crime of the third degree. A third degree crime is punishable by a prison term of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
The amended bill also prohibits State or local agencies from posting or publishing on the Internet a home address or telephone number of a law enforcement officer or retired law enforcement officer without first obtaining the officer’s written consent.
Persons, businesses, and associations also are prohibited by the amended bill from disclosing on the Internet a law enforcement officer’s or retired law enforcement officer’s home address and or unpublished home telephone number under circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that providing that information would expose another to harassment or risk of harm to life or property.
The amended bill specifies that persons, businesses, or associations may be liable to law enforcement officers, retired law enforcement officers, or any other person residing at the home of the officers for violating the provisions of the amended bill. The amended bill authorizes the officer or person to bring a civil action in Superior Court. The court may award: (1) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages computed at the rate of $1,000 for each violation of this act; (2) punitive damages upon proof of willful or reckless disregard of the law; (3) reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred; and (4) any other preliminary and equitable relief as the court determines to be appropriate.
The amended bill defines “disclose” as soliciting, selling, manufacturing, giving, providing, lending, trading, mailing, delivering, transferring, publishing, distributing, circulating, disseminating, presenting, exhibiting, advertising or offering.