TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A new law will make it harder for state residents facing domestic violence charges to enter pretrial intervention programs to avoid jail time.

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Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed a bill that requires those charged with domestic violence to enter a guilty plea before being considered for pretrial programs that can cut down on prison sentences.

The new law also clears the way for courts to consider incarceration for first-time offenders. Under previous law first-time offenders had a presumption of non-imprisonment.

Lawmakers say the new law tells offenders that their behavior will not be tolerated and sends a message that domestic violence is not acceptable.

Christie signed the bill along with some two dozen other measures. He also vetoed about a dozen bills passed by the Democrat-led Legislature.


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