New Jersey Considers Tougher Home Invasion Sentencing

Posted by , , at 10:53 am

We know that burglars generally try to avoid a confrontation with homeowners: that’s why such a high percentage of residential crimes take place during the day. Intruders expect your home to be empty.

But sometimes there is someone home, or a burglar is desperate enough to break down the door – regardless of who may be inside.

Select states (including Connecticut, Delaware and others) have determined that perpetrators of “home invasion” are going to pay a higher penalty in sentencing. This story from New Jersey tells how one more state is addressing the issue.

Sentencing Details

Written by Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, a R-Morris and Somerset, the bill sought to upgrade the charge for the unlawful break-in of a home from a third-degree offense to a second-degree crime, which would result in a five-to-10 year prison term if convicted. Currently in New Jersey, burglary is a third-degree crime that does not carry a prison sentence for a first-time offender. Additionally, the bill proposed upgrading the crime to a first-degree offense if the accused is armed or is carrying a deadly weapon.

Really? No prison time for a first-time burglar? Interesting… and as someone who has been involved in protecting homes and families since 1989, I must say I find this a bit perplexing.

In 2012, news broke of Milburn’s notorious “Nanny Can” home invasion in which an intruder beat a woman in front of her child. In response to the crime, Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick, R-Westfield, proposed a bill making home invasion a first-degree crime and upgrading burglary of a residence to a second-degree crime under certain circumstances. The bill would also have subjected the criminal to the “No Early Release Act,” which requires people convicted of a violent crime to serve 85 percent of their sentence and serve parole following release. That bill, like Bucco’s, stalled in the senate.

Recent Progress on Legislation

In January, Bramnick re-introduced the bill in the Assembly, which now appears to have bi-partisan support in the Senate. On May 19, Democratic Senator Richard Cody, along with Republican Senators Thomas Kean Jr. and Steven V. Oroho introduced a similar bill. New Jersey Senate Bill 2105 creates first-degree crime of home invasion, makes crime subject to the “No Early Release Act,” and upgrades burglary of a residence to a second-degree crime under certain circumstances. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What Works to Deter Residential Crime?

Senator Linda R. Greenstein, D-Cranbury, who has not been involved in drafting any of the bills, said increasing prison sentences is not necessarily a deterrent to violent crime. “My first impression is it might be a good idea to raise the penalties,” Greenstein said. “But whether stricter sentences will stop the problem – I am not sure. I would need to hear from the experts.”

Who Are the Perpetrators?

Bianchi says many home invasions are the result of gang members traveling to the wealthiest communities. The former [Morris County] prosecutor said he has viewed videotapes of gang members admitting that they came to Morris County because people “had nice things” and the “homes are far apart.” “Many of these crimes are being done by organized criminal gangs,” Bianchi said. “They’re serial burglars. And they’re very effective at what they do.”

Remember Connecticut?

Many New England residents remember that in July of 2007 the state of Connecticut was rocked by the report of a home invasion in Cheshire that resulted in arson and murder. It took over three years until the first of the two perpetrators was convicted and sentenced – but shortly after the event occurred, the State of Connecticut toughened its law regarding home invasion. Here’s a link to that news article:

Within months of the July 2007 crime, state lawmakers passed a bill that made home invasion a Class A felony punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison; Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the bill into law the following January. Through the end of June, 2010, 11 people had been convicted of the offense in state courts, including one person in Danbury, and most in conjunction with other crimes. More than 200 cases remained pending.

With residential crime on the rise across much of America, it’s easy to make the case for getting a home alarm system to protect your home and family.

Studies have shown that a home with a monitored alarm system is only one third as likely to experience a burglary as the unprotected house next door.

And the next-generation alarm companies also offer fire monitoring, smarter interactive features, and even home automation for remote control of light, locks, and thermostats.

It’s good to remember that alarm companies are primarily in the business of providing peace of mind – and that starts with your intrusion alarm system.

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