The bill, sponsored by Democrats Assemblyman John F. McKeon and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey both representing Essex and Morris counties, would make the home invasion a crime of the first degree with an enhanced term of imprisonment between 10 and 30 years.
“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. “Invasion is a very serious, extremely violent crime that deserves a more stringent sentencing than what is currently on the books.”
In addition, the individual convicted of this crime would be subject to sentencing under the Early Release Act.
Currently, the act would be considered a second degree crime due to the severe brutality involved in the execution of the crime.
“Home invasion takes an extreme amount of violence,” said Jasey. “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."
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.
Jasey added, “Tougher sentencing is necessary to sufficiently punish those who invade homes, terrorize families and steal their sense of security.”
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 will head to the Senate for further consideration.