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Schaer, Benson, McKnight & Moriarty Bill to Expand Crime of Bias Intimidation in NJ Clears Assembly

Bill Establishes Additional Penalties for Crimes of Bias Intimidation, Harassment; and Bias Intimidation Motivation Damages

To strengthen New Jersey’s bias intimidation laws, legislation expanding statute on crimes motivated by prejudice against others based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or ethnicity cleared the Assembly on Thursday, 71-0-2.

The bill (A-4833), sponsored by Assembly members Gary Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Daniel R. Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) and Paul Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester) would establish additional penalties for the crimes of bias intimidation, and harassment. Additionally, it provides a process to secure compensation for damages incurred due to bias intimidation.

The sponsors issued the following joint statement on the bill:

“This legislation builds upon our work to modernize existing laws to ensure every New Jerseyan is protected from harassment and intimidation.”

Under the legislation, additional penalties would be imposed for a conviction of bias intimidation, for each offense, in the amount of $2,000 for a crime of the first degree; $1,000 for a crime of the second degree; $750 for a crime of the third degree; $500 for a crime of the fourth degree; and $250 for a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense.

The penalties would be deposited into the Bias Crime Prevention Fund, established under the bill, for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting bias intimidation crimes; supporting community response to bias crime incidents; funding training and educational programs on bias crimes and diversity, as well as other programs designed to enhance public awareness of bias crimes and diversity.

The bill will go to the Senate for further review.