Bill Text: NJ A1401 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Upgrades assault against servicemember to aggravated assault; expands crime of bias intimidation to encompass crimes and offenses committed against servicemembers.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 4-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-01-09 - Introduced, Referred to Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee [A1401 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-A1401-Introduced.html

ASSEMBLY, No. 1401

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2018 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  ANTHONY M. BUCCO

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

Assemblywoman  NANCY F. MUNOZ

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblywoman  BETTYLOU DECROCE

District 26 (Essex, Morris and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Upgrades assault against servicemember to aggravated assault; expands crime of bias intimidation to encompass crimes and offenses committed against servicemembers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning offenses committed against servicemembers and amending N.J.S.2C:12-1 and N.J.S.2C:16-1.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  N.J.S.2C:12-1 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:12-1.  Assault.  a.  Simple assault.  A person is guilty of assault if he:

     (1)   Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or

     (2)   Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

     (3)   Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

     Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.

     b.    Aggravated assault.  A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he:

     (1)   Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such injury; or

     (2)   Attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

     (3)   Recklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

     (4)   Knowingly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life points a firearm, as defined in subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-1, at or in the direction of another, whether or not the actor believes it to be loaded; or

     (5)   Commits a simple assault as defined in paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of subsection a. of this section upon:

     (a)   Any law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority or because of his status as a law enforcement officer; or

     (b)   Any paid or volunteer fireman acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or otherwise clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of the duties of a fireman; or

     (c)   Any person engaged in emergency first-aid or medical services acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or otherwise clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of emergency first-aid or medical services; or

     (d)   Any school board member, school administrator, teacher, school bus driver or other employee of a public or nonpublic school or school board while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as a member or employee of a public or nonpublic school or school board or any school bus driver employed by an operator under contract to a public or nonpublic school or school board while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as a school bus driver; or

     (e)   Any employee of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as an employee of the division; or

     (f)   Any justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Superior Court, judge of the Tax Court or municipal judge while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of judicial duties or because of his status as a member of the judiciary; or

     (g)   Any operator of a motorbus or the operator's supervisor or any employee of a rail passenger service while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as an operator of a motorbus or as the operator's supervisor or as an employee of a rail passenger service; or

     (h)   Any Department of Corrections employee, county corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, State juvenile facility employee, juvenile detention staff member, juvenile detention officer, probation officer or any sheriff, undersheriff, or sheriff's officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority or because of his status as a Department of Corrections employee, county corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, State juvenile facility employee, juvenile detention staff member, juvenile detention officer, probation officer, sheriff, undersheriff, or sheriff's officer; or

     (i)    Any employee, including any person employed under contract, of a utility company as defined in section 2 of P.L.1971, c.224 (C.2A:42-86) or a cable television company subject to the provisions of the "Cable Television Act," P.L.1972, c.186 (C.48:5A-1 et seq.) while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties in regard to connecting, disconnecting or repairing or attempting to connect, disconnect or repair any gas, electric or water utility, or cable television or telecommunication service; or

     (j)    Any health care worker employed by a licensed health care facility to provide direct patient care, any health care professional licensed or otherwise authorized pursuant to Title 26 or Title 45 of the Revised Statutes to practice a health care profession, except a direct care worker at a State or county psychiatric hospital or State developmental center or veterans' memorial home, while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the duties of providing direct patient care or practicing the health care profession; or

     (k)   Any direct care worker at a State or county psychiatric hospital or State developmental center or veterans' memorial home, while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the duties of providing direct patient care or practicing the health care profession, provided that the actor is not a patient or resident at the facility who is classified by the facility as having a mental illness or developmental disability; or

     (l) Any servicemember while in uniform or because of his status as a servicemember. As used in this subparagraph, "servicemember" means any veteran or enlisted person or officer of the United States Armed Forces, or a reserve component thereof, or the organized militia of the State of New Jersey pursuant to N.J.S.38A:1-3; or

     (6)   Causes bodily injury to another person while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer in violation of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-2 or while operating a motor vehicle in violation of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:20-10.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a person shall be strictly liable for a violation of this paragraph upon proof of a violation of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-2 or while operating a motor vehicle in violation of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:20-10 which resulted in bodily injury to another person; or

     (7)   Attempts to cause significant bodily injury to another or causes significant bodily injury purposely or knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such significant bodily injury; or

     (8)   Causes bodily injury by knowingly or purposely starting a fire or causing an explosion in violation of N.J.S.2C:17-1 which results in bodily injury to any emergency services personnel involved in fire suppression activities, rendering emergency medical services resulting from the fire or explosion or rescue operations, or rendering any necessary assistance at the scene of the fire or explosion, including any bodily injury sustained while responding to the scene of a reported fire or explosion.  For purposes of this paragraph, "emergency services personnel" shall include, but not be limited to, any paid or volunteer fireman, any person engaged in emergency first-aid or medical services and any law enforcement officer.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a person shall be strictly liable for a violation of this paragraph upon proof of a violation of N.J.S.2C:17-1 which resulted in bodily injury to any emergency services personnel; or

     (9)   Knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, points or displays a firearm, as defined in subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-1, at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer; or

     (10) Knowingly points, displays or uses an imitation firearm, as defined in subsection v. of N.J.S.2C:39-1, at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer with the purpose to intimidate, threaten or attempt to put the officer in fear of bodily injury or for any unlawful purpose; or

     (11) Uses or activates a laser sighting system or device, or a system or device which, in the manner used, would cause a reasonable person to believe that it is a laser sighting system or device, against a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority.  As used in this paragraph, "laser sighting system or device" means any system or device that is integrated with or affixed to a firearm and emits a laser light beam that is used to assist in the sight alignment or aiming of the firearm; or

     (12) Attempts to cause significant bodily injury or causes significant bodily injury purposely or knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly causes significant bodily injury to a person who, with respect to the actor, meets the definition of a victim of domestic violence, as defined in subsection d. of section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19).

     Aggravated assault under paragraphs (1) and (6) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the second degree; under paragraphs (2), (7), (9) and (10) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree; under paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the fourth degree; and under paragraph (5) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury, otherwise it is a crime of the fourth degree. Aggravated assault under paragraph (8) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury; if the victim suffers significant bodily injury or serious bodily injury it is a crime of the second degree.   Aggravated assault under paragraph (11) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree.  Aggravated assault under paragraph (12) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree but the presumption of non-imprisonment set forth in subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:44-1 for a first offense of a crime of the third degree shall not apply.

     c. (1) A person is guilty of assault by auto or vessel when the person drives a vehicle or vessel recklessly and causes either serious bodily injury or bodily injury to another.  Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury results and is a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury results. Proof that the defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle in violation of section 1 of P.L.2003, c.310 (C.39:4-97.3) may give rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.

     (2)   Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and bodily injury results.

     (3)   Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the second degree if serious bodily injury results from the defendant operating the auto or vessel while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) while:

     (a)   on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property;

     (b)   driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 if the municipality, by ordinance or resolution, has designated the school crossing as such; or

     (c)   driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 knowing that juveniles are present if the municipality has not designated the school crossing as such by ordinance or resolution.

     Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if bodily injury results from the defendant operating the auto or vessel in violation of this paragraph.

     A map or true copy of a map depicting the location and boundaries of the area on or within 1,000 feet of any property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board produced pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1987, c.101 (C.2C:35-7) may be used in a prosecution under subparagraph (a) of paragraph (3) of this subsection.

     It shall be no defense to a prosecution for a violation of subparagraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (3) of this subsection that the defendant was unaware that the prohibited conduct took place while on or within 1,000 feet of any school property or while driving through a school crossing.  Nor shall it be a defense to a prosecution under subparagraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (3) of this subsection that no juveniles were present on the school property or crossing zone at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.

     (4)   Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and bodily injury results.  For purposes of this paragraph, "driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner" shall include, but is not limited to, unexpectedly altering the speed of the vehicle, making improper or erratic traffic lane changes, disregarding traffic control devices, failing to yield the right of way, or following another vehicle too closely.

     As used in this subsection, "vessel" means a means of conveyance for travel on water and propelled otherwise than by muscular power.

     d.    A person who is employed by a facility as defined in section 2 of P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-2) who commits a simple assault as defined in paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection a. of this section upon an institutionalized elderly person as defined in section 2 of P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-2) is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     e.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2001, c.443).

     f.     A person who commits a simple assault as defined in paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of subsection a. of this section in the presence of a child under 16 years of age at a school or community sponsored youth sports event is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.  The defendant shall be strictly liable upon proof that the offense occurred, in fact, in the presence of a child under 16 years of age.  It shall not be a defense that the defendant did not know that the child was present or reasonably believed that the child was 16 years of age or older.  The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to create any liability on the part of a participant in a youth sports event or to abrogate any immunity or defense available to a participant in a youth sports event.  As used in this act, "school or community sponsored youth sports event" means a competition, practice or instructional event involving one or more interscholastic sports teams or youth sports teams organized pursuant to a nonprofit or similar charter or which are member teams in a youth league organized by or affiliated with a county or municipal recreation department and shall not include collegiate, semi-professional or professional sporting events.

(cf: P.L.2015, c.100, s.1)

 

     2.  N.J.S.2C:16-1 is amended to read as follows: 

     2C:16-1.  Bias Intimidation.

     a.     Bias Intimidation.  A person is guilty of the crime of bias intimidation if he commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of an offense specified in chapters 11 through 18 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; N.J.S.2C:33-4; N.J.S.2C:39-3; N.J.S.2C:39-4 or N.J.S.2C:39-5[,] :

     (1)   with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, [or] ethnicity, or status as a servicemember; or

     (2)   knowing that the conduct constituting the offense would cause an individual or group of individuals to be intimidated because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, [or] ethnicity, or status as a servicemember [; or

     (3)   under circumstances that caused any victim of the underlying offense to be intimidated and the victim, considering the manner in which the offense was committed, reasonably believed either that (a) the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate the victim or any person or entity in whose welfare the victim is interested because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity, or (b) the victim or the victim's property was selected to be the target of the offense because of the victim's race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity].

     b.    Permissive inference concerning selection of targeted person or property.  Proof that the target of the underlying offense was selected by the defendant, or by another acting in concert with the defendant, because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, [or]  ethnicity, or status as a servicemember shall give rise to a permissive inference by the trier of fact that the defendant acted with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, [or]  ethnicity, or status as a servicemember.

     c.     Grading.  Bias intimidation is a crime of the fourth degree if the underlying offense referred to in subsection a. is a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense.  Otherwise, bias intimidation is a crime one degree higher than the most serious underlying crime referred to in subsection a., except that where the underlying crime is a crime of the first degree, bias intimidation is a first-degree crime and the defendant upon conviction thereof may, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:43-6, be sentenced to an ordinary term of imprisonment between 15 years and 30 years, with a presumptive term of 20 years.

     d.    Gender exemption in sexual offense prosecutions.  It shall not be a violation of subsection a. if the underlying criminal offense is a violation of chapter 14 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes and the circumstance specified in paragraph (1)[,] or (2) [or (3)] of subsection a. of this section is based solely upon the gender of the victim.

     e.     Merger.  Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8 or any other provision of law, a conviction for bias intimidation shall not merge with a conviction of any of the underlying offenses referred to in subsection a. of this section, nor shall any conviction for such underlying offense merge with a conviction for bias intimidation.  The court shall impose separate sentences upon a conviction for bias intimidation and a conviction of any underlying offense.

     f.     Additional Penalties.  In addition to any fine imposed pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-3 or any term of imprisonment imposed pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, a court may order a person convicted of bias intimidation to one or more of the following:

     (1)   complete a class or program on sensitivity to diverse communities, or other similar training in the area of civil rights;

     (2)   complete a counseling program intended to reduce the tendency toward violent and antisocial behavior; and

     (3)   make payments or other compensation to a community-based program or local agency that provides services to victims of bias intimidation. 

     g.    As used in this section ["gender] :

     "Gender identity or expression" means having or being perceived as having a gender related identity or expression whether or not stereotypically associated with a person's assigned sex at birth.

      "Servicemember" means any veteran or enlisted person or officer of the United States Armed Forces, or a reserve component thereof, or the organized militia of the State of New Jersey pursuant to N.J.S.38A:1-3.

     h.    It shall not be a defense to a prosecution for a crime under this section that the defendant was mistaken as to the victim's race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, [or] ethnicity [of the victim] , or  status as a servicemember.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.303, s.1)

 

     3.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would upgrade the offense of simple assault to aggravated assault if committed against a servicemember, and would expand the crime of bias intimidation to encompass crimes and offenses committed against servicemembers.

Definition

     The bill defines "servicemember" as any veteran or enlisted person or officer of the United States Armed Forces, or a reserve component thereof, or the organized militia of the State of New Jersey pursuant to N.J.S.38A:1-3.

Assault

     Currently, N.J.S.2C:12-1 provides that a person is guilty of assault if he:

     (1)   Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or

     (2)   Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

     (3)   Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

     Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.  A disorderly persons offense is generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to $1,000 or both; a petty disorderly persons offense, by a term of up to 30 days or a fine of up to $500 or both.

     However, under paragraph (5) of subsection b. of the statute, simple assault is upgraded to the crime of aggravated assault if committed against certain individuals. These individuals include law enforcement officers, corrections officers, judges, utility company employees, health care workers, and others. Aggravated assault against such individuals is a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury; otherwise it is a crime of the fourth degree.  A crime of the third degree is generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years; a fine of up to $15,000; or both; a crime of the fourth degree, by a term of up to 18 months; a fine of up to $10,000; or both.

     This bill provides that a simple assault committed against a servicemember while in uniform or because of his status as a servicemember would also constitute aggravated assault under paragraph (5) of subsection b. of the statute.

Bias Crimes

     Under N.J.S.2C:16-1, a person is guilty of bias intimidation if he commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of an enumerated offense:

     (1) with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity; or

     (2) knowing that the conduct would cause intimidation because of those grounds; or

     (3) under circumstances that caused a victim to be intimidated and the victim reasonably believed either that: (a)  the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate on those grounds, or (b) the victim or the victim's property was selected to be the target of the offense on those grounds.

     Under the statute, the crime of bias intimidation is generally graded one level higher than the underlying offense. A conviction for bias intimidation does not merge with a conviction for an underlying offense.

     This bill would amend the bias crimes statute to include an individual or group of individuals who were targeted because of their status as servicemembers.

Additional Amendment to Bias Crimes Statute

     In addition, the bill amends the bias intimidation statute to delete paragraph (3) of subsection a., in accordance with a 2015 New Jersey Supreme Court decision that held the provision unconstitutional.  In State v. Pomianek, 221 N.J. 66 (2015), the court ruled that paragraph (3) violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because, in focusing on the victim's perception and not on the defendant's intent, paragraph (3) "does not give a defendant sufficient guidance or notice on how to conform to the law." The court found that paragraph (3) unconstitutionally allows a defendant to be convicted of a bias crime "even though a jury may conclude that the defendant had no intent to commit such a crime."   

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