(TRENTON) – Bi-partisan legislation, sponsored in part by Assembly Democrats John F. McKeon and Mila M. Jasey, that would make home invasion a crime in New Jersey was advanced by the full Assembly on Monday.
Last June, a brutal home invasion in Milburn Township in Essex of a mother and two young children under the age of three was caught on a nanny-cam. Under current law, the act would be considered a second degree crime due to the severe brutality involved in the execution of the crime.
“The thought of someone breaking into your home is terrifying but when it happens while you are there it can be even more jarring,” said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “Invasion is a very serious, extremely violent crime that deserves a more stringent sentencing than what is currently on the books.”
“This legislation would give law enforcement the ability to take on this crime directly.”
“Home invasion takes an extreme amount of violence,” said Mila M. Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “It’s a heinous and brutal form of burglary and because of the viciousness of this offense it must be treated as a separate crime.
“Tougher sentencing is necessary to sufficiently punish those who invade homes, terrorize families and steal their sense of security.”
Home invasion is not a legally defined federal offense throughout the United States, but is in (8) states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and Nevada. Six other states include a reference to act so home invasion as part of state law pertaining to burglary. This year legislation has also been introduced in the New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina. New Hampshire Senate passed legislation in 2011 making home invasion deaths a capital crime.
The bill (A-4329) would make the home invasion a crime of the first degree with an enhanced term of imprisonment between 10 and 30 years. In addition, the individual convicted of this crime would be subject to sentencing under the Early Release Act (NERA). The legislation also would upgrade burglary from a crime of the third degree to a crime of the second degree if the residential dwelling is inhabited is present in the dwelling. The bill defines home invasion as a person who unlawfully enters a person’s residence with the intent to commit an offense and places the homeowner or other occupant in fear of bodily injury.
A second degree crime is punishable by five to (10) years imprisonment, a fine of up to $150,000 or both. In addition, the bill provides that a person convicted of the crime of home invasion is subject to sentencing under the NERA. A person sentenced under the NERA is required to serve 85% of the sentence.
The bill unanimously passed the Assembly 75-0. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.