New Jersey was the last state in the union to authorize the use of stun guns as a law enforcement tool. It wasn’t until 2006 that the state authorized their use and some counties did not start issuing them to police until just recently.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being arrested you should know that officers do not have the right to arbitrarily use a stun device on you. In fact, New Jersey has one of the most comprehensive and strict stun gun policies in the nation.
Originally, New Jersey officers were only allowed to use the devices to stun emotionally disturbed people armed with a deadly weapon. Those restrictions were eventually relaxed to allow law enforcement to use a stun device on anyone threatening death or serious bodily injury to an officer or another person — or to prevent the escape of a violent offender.
That being said, an officer still cannot use his or her stun device if a suspect ignores a command to get on the ground, is damaging property, is standing on a ledge or is driving a car. Also, an officer may not stun a handcuffed suspect unless it appears that person is going to maim or kill someone and there is no other alternative.
As an added incentive to keep officers honest, a small camera on the Taser records what has happened when a suspect is stunned. Officers are also required to file a written report each time a Taser has been used. That report is then reviewed by the officer’s supervisor, police chief, county prosecutor, the state Division of Criminal Justice and the state Attorney General’s Office.
The police chief of Lodi, who was interviewed by NorthJersey.com, believes that the Taser policy is still too restrictive and that officers should be able to enforce compliance with a stun gun. However, the media is rife with stories about stun gun misuse that have led to injuries and deaths nationwide.
According to NorthJersey.com, the New York Civil Liberties Union claims that it has found widespread abuse of stun guns by police throughout that state. The organization says that only 15 percent of stun gun use was on those suspected to be armed or who were actually armed. Over a third of those stunned were fired on multiple times and some were stunned without any warning from officers.
The New Jersey ACLU says it intends to keep close tabs on Taser use in the state. A spokesman for the organization said, ”It is a valuable law enforcement tool when used correctly. The question is will it be used correctly?”
If you have been accused of a crime in New Jersey and believe your rights have been violated, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo, LLC. We can establish whether police misuse of power and procedure may factor into your defense. We are determined to see that you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact us online or call us toll-free at (888) 847-2529 to learn how we can help you.