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Lopez, Speight Bill to Make Strangulation in Domestic Violence Incidents Crime of the Second Degree Clears Legislature, Goes to Governor’s Desk

The full Assembly advanced legislation, 74-0, sponsored by Assemblywomen Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) and Shanique Speight (D-Essex) to strengthen laws concerning the use of strangulation in acts of domestic violence.

In its 2018 Annual Report, Fatality By Strangulation, the New Jersey Domestic Violence Fatality Near Fatality Review Board noted that, in the domestic violence context, strangulation is one of the strongest predictors for the subsequent homicide of victims of domestic violence.

Assemblywomen Lopez and Speight in a joint statement underscored the need for the increased penalty:

“Over the years, we’ve learned the strong correlation between strangulation and domestic violence deaths. Victims of attempted strangulation are seven times more likely to become homicide victims when compared to victims without a strangulation history. Its use instills fear and intimidates victims.

“The harm caused by strangulation is not just physical; it is emotionally and mentally damaging to a victim. Strangulation occurring during acts of domestic violence is an indicator that something worse can happen. This legislation helps to ensure the penalty fits this unspeakable act of terror.”

The bill (A-4588) would elevate strangulation, committed in the domestic violence context against a victim of domestic violence, to a crime of the second degree, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.

Under current law, strangulation is graded as a crime of the third degree, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.