Source: New Jersey Herald -
The General Assembly passed a bill on Monday that makes the crime of home invasion, when a person is present, a first-degree offense under certain circumstances.
The legislation was sponsored by Assembly Republicans Alison McHose and Parker Space, both R-24, which includes Sussex, Morris and Warren counties.
The bill also upgrades burglary of a residence to a second-degree crime under certain circumstances.
The bill was a response to a break-in, robbery and vicious assault that occurred in a Millburn residence in June. A baby monitor recorded video of the crime in which an intruder beat a mother in front of her child, according to Louis Crescitelli, chief of staff for McHose and Space.
“The ordeal of a home burglary is a traumatic experience, and the psychological impact of being present when this occurs causes emotional scars that last a lifetime,” McHose said.
The charge for unlawful, non-violent break-in of a home is currently a third-degree offense and requires no prison time.
The new Home Invasion Bill states that the entering of a home with intent of a robbery, a first- or second-degree crime, or certain kidnapping and sexual crimes when a person is present will be classified as a first-degree offense, which requires a prison term of 10 to 30 years.
Home invasions will be labeled as a first-degree crime if the actor in the crime uses force or inflicts bodily injury on a person in the residence; threatens or purposely puts the person in the residence in fear of bodily injury; commits, attempts, or threatens to commit a first or second-degree crime or certain kidnapping and sexual crimes and offenses; or is armed or threatens the use of a deadly weapon or explosive.
Further, such offenses would be subject to the No Early Release Act, which states the convicted must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.
“A criminal who acts with such callousness and threatens someone’s physical and mental well-being violates a basic premise that we hold sacred,” Space said. “Those who exhibit such detestable behavior and total lack of respect belong in one place –– jail.”
With the current bill “there’s no presumption of incarceration,” Crescitelli said. A criminal could “plea bargain down, and this (bill) would ensure that will not happen.”
Other Assembly Republican sponsors of the bill include Jon Bramnick, R-21, Mary Pat Angelini, R-11, Dave Rible, R-30, Scott Rumana, R-40,. and BettyLou DeCroce, R-26.
An identical Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24.