SENATE, No. 361

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JAMES BEACH

District 6 (Burlington and Camden)

Senator  DIANE B. ALLEN

District 7 (Burlington)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for all murders.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning murder and amending N.J.S.2C:11-3.

 

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

 

     1.    N.J.S.2C:11-3 is amended to read as follows:

     2C:11-3.  Murder.

     a.     Except as provided in N.J.S.2C:11-4, criminal homicide constitutes murder when:

     (1)   The actor purposely causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death; or

     (2)   The actor knowingly causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death; or

     (3)   It is committed when the actor, acting either alone or with one or more other persons, is engaged in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit robbery, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking, criminal escape or terrorism pursuant to section 2 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-2), and in the course of such crime or of immediate flight therefrom, any person causes the death of a person other than one of the participants; except that in any prosecution under this subsection, in which the defendant was not the only participant in the underlying crime, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant:

     (a)   Did not commit the homicidal act or in any way solicit, request, command, importune, cause or aid the commission thereof; and

     (b)   Was not armed with a deadly weapon, or any instrument, article or substance readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury and of a sort not ordinarily carried in public places by law-abiding persons; and

     (c)   Had no reasonable ground to believe that any other participant was armed with such a weapon, instrument, article or substance; and

     (d)   Had no reasonable ground to believe that any other participant intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death or serious physical injury.         

     b.    [(1)] Murder is a crime of the first degree [but] and a person convicted of murder, including a juvenile who has been tried as an adult, shall be sentenced [, except as provided in paragraphs (2), (3) and (4) of this subsection, by the court to a term of 30 years, during which the person shall not be eligible for parole, or be sentenced to a specific term of years which shall be between 30 years and life imprisonment of which the person shall serve 30 years before being eligible for parole] by the court to a term of  life imprisonment without eligibility for parole.

     (2)   [If the victim was a law enforcement officer and was murdered while performing his official duties or was murdered because of his status as a law enforcement officer, the person convicted of that murder shall be sentenced by the court to a term of life imprisonment, during which the person shall not be eligible for parole] Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     (3)   [A person convicted of murder shall be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole if the murder was committed under all of the following circumstances:

     (a)   The victim is less than 14 years old; and

     (b)   The act is committed in the course of the commission, whether alone or with one or more persons, of a violation of N.J.S.2C:14-2 or N.J.S.2C:14-3]  Deleted by amendment, P.L.     , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     (4)   [Any person convicted under subsection a.(1) or (2) who committed the homicidal act by his own conduct; or who as an accomplice procured the commission of the offense by payment or promise of payment of anything of pecuniary value; or who, as a leader of a narcotics trafficking network as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-3 and in furtherance of a conspiracy enumerated in N.J.S.2C:35-3, commanded or by threat or promise solicited the commission of the offense, or, if the murder occurred during the commission of the crime of terrorism, any person who committed the crime of terrorism, shall be sentenced by the court to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole, which sentence shall be served in a maximum security prison, if a jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that any of the following aggravating factors exist:

     (a)   The defendant has been convicted, at any time, of another murder.  For purposes of this section, a conviction shall be deemed final when sentence is imposed and may be used as an aggravating factor regardless of whether it is on appeal;

     (b)   In the commission of the murder, the defendant purposely or knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person in addition to the victim;

     (c)   The murder was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind, or an aggravated assault to the victim;

     (d)   The defendant committed the murder as consideration for the receipt, or in expectation of the receipt of anything of pecuniary value;

     (e)   The defendant procured the commission of the murder by payment or promise of payment of anything of pecuniary value;

     (f)    The murder was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, punishment or confinement for another offense committed by the defendant or another;

     (g)   The murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit murder, robbery, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking or the crime of contempt in violation of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-9;

     (h)   The defendant murdered a public servant, as defined in N.J.S.2C:27-1, while the victim was engaged in the performance of his official duties, or because of the victim's status as a public servant;

     (i)    The defendant: (i) as a leader of a narcotics trafficking network as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-3 and in furtherance of a conspiracy enumerated in N.J.S.2C:35-3, committed, commanded or by threat or promise solicited the commission of the murder or (ii) committed the murder at the direction of a leader of a narcotics trafficking network as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-3 in furtherance of a conspiracy enumerated in N.J.S.2C:35-3;

     (j)    The homicidal act that the defendant committed or procured was in violation of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:17-2;

     (k)   The victim was less than 14 years old; or

     (l)    The murder  was committed during the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit, terrorism pursuant to section 2 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-2)] Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     (5)   [A juvenile who has been tried as an adult and convicted of murder shall be sentenced pursuant to paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of this subsection] Deleted by amendment, P.L.    , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     c.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     d.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     e.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     f.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     g.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     h.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.204).

     i.      For purposes of this section the term "homicidal act" shall mean conduct that causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death.

     j.     In a sentencing proceeding conducted pursuant to this section, the display of a photograph of the victim taken before the homicide shall be permitted.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.204, s.1).

 

     2.    Section 7 of P.L.1979, c.441 (C.30:4-123.51) is amended to read as follows:

     7.    a.  Each adult inmate sentenced to a term of incarceration in a county penal institution, or to a specific term of years at the State Prison or the correctional institution for women shall become primarily eligible for parole after having served any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum term, or one-third of the sentence imposed where no mandatory minimum term has been imposed less commutation time for good behavior pursuant to N.J.S.2A:164-24 or R.S.30:4-140 and credits for diligent application to work and other institutional assignments pursuant to P.L.1972, c.115 (C.30:8-28.1 et seq.) or R.S.30:4-92.  Consistent with the provisions of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (N.J.S.2C:11-3, 2C:14-6, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-7), commutation and work credits shall not in any way reduce any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum term and such credits accrued shall only be awarded subsequent to the expiration of the term.

     b.    Each adult inmate sentenced to a term of life imprisonment shall become primarily eligible for parole after having served any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum term, or 25 years where no mandatory minimum term has been imposed less commutation time for good behavior and credits for diligent application to work and other institutional assignments.  If an inmate sentenced to a specific term or terms of years is eligible for parole on a date later than the date upon which he would be eligible if a life sentence had been imposed, then in such case the inmate shall be eligible for parole after having served 25 years, less commutation time for good behavior and credits for diligent application to work and other institutional assignments.  Consistent with the provisions of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (N.J.S.2C:11-3, 2C:14-6, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-7), commutation and work credits shall not in any way reduce any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum term and such credits accrued shall only be awarded subsequent to the expiration of the term.

     c.     Each inmate sentenced to a specific term of years pursuant to the "Controlled Dangerous Substances Act," P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-1 et al.) shall become primarily eligible for parole after having served one-third of the sentence imposed less commutation time for good behavior and credits for diligent application to work and other institutional assignments.

     d.    Each adult inmate sentenced to an indeterminate term of years as a young adult offender pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-5 shall become primarily eligible for parole consideration pursuant to a schedule of primary eligibility dates developed by the board, less adjustment for program participation.  In no case shall the board schedule require that the primary parole eligibility date for a young adult offender be greater than the primary parole eligibility date required pursuant to this section for the presumptive term for the crime authorized pursuant to subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:44-1.

     e.     Each adult inmate sentenced for an offense specified in N.J.S.2C:47-1 shall become primarily eligible for parole as follows:

     (1) If the court finds that the offender's conduct was not characterized by a pattern of repetitive, compulsive behavior or finds that the offender is not amenable to sex offender treatment, or if after sentencing the Department of Corrections in its most recent examination determines that the offender is not amenable to sex offender treatment, the offender shall become primarily eligible for parole after having served any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum term or one-third of the sentence imposed where no mandatory minimum term has been imposed.  Neither such term shall be reduced by commutation time for good behavior pursuant to R.S.30:4-140 or credits for diligent application to work and other institutional assignments pursuant to R.S.30:4-92.

     (2)   All other offenders shall be eligible for parole pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.2C:47-5, except no offender shall become primarily eligible for parole prior to the expiration of any judicial or statutory mandatory minimum term.

     f.     Each juvenile inmate committed to an indeterminate term shall be immediately eligible for parole.

     g.     Each adult inmate of a county jail, workhouse or penitentiary shall become primarily eligible for parole upon service of 60 days of his aggregate sentence or as provided for in subsection a. of this section, whichever is greater.  Whenever any such inmate's parole eligibility is within six months of the date of such sentence, the judge shall state such eligibility on the record which shall satisfy all public and inmate notice requirements.  The chief executive officer of the institution in which county inmates are held shall generate all reports pursuant to subsection d. of section 10 of P.L.1979, c.441 (C.30:4-123.54).  The parole board shall have the authority to promulgate time periods applicable to the parole processing of inmates of county penal institutions, except that no inmate may be released prior to the primary eligibility date established by this subsection, unless consented to by the sentencing judge.  No inmate sentenced to a specific term of years at the State Prison or the correctional institution for women shall become primarily eligible for parole until service of a full nine months of his aggregate sentence.

     h.     When an inmate is sentenced to more than one term of imprisonment, the primary parole eligibility terms calculated pursuant to this section shall be aggregated by the board for the purpose of determining the primary parole eligibility date, except that no juvenile commitment shall be aggregated with any adult sentence.  The board shall promulgate rules and regulations to govern aggregation under this subsection.

     i.      The primary eligibility date shall be computed by a designated representative of the board and made known to the inmate in writing not later than 90 days following the commencement of the sentence.  In the case of an inmate sentenced to a county penal institution such notice shall be made pursuant to subsection g. of this section.  Each inmate shall be given the opportunity to acknowledge in writing the receipt of such computation.  Failure or refusal by the inmate to acknowledge the receipt of such computation shall be recorded by the board but shall not constitute a violation of this subsection.

     j.     Except as provided in this subsection, each inmate sentenced pursuant to N.J.S.2A:113-4 for a term of life imprisonment, N.J.S.2A:164-17 for a fixed minimum and maximum term or subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:1-1 shall not be primarily eligible for parole on a date computed pursuant to this section, but shall be primarily eligible on a date computed pursuant to P.L.1948, c.84 (C.30:4-123.1 et seq.), which is continued in effect for this purpose.  Inmates classified as second, third or fourth offenders pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1948, c.84 (C.30:4-123.12) shall become primarily eligible for parole after serving one-third, one-half or two-thirds of the maximum sentence imposed, respectively, less in each instance commutation time for good behavior and credits for diligent application to work and other institutional assignments; provided, however, that if the prosecuting attorney or the sentencing court advises the board that the punitive aspects of the sentence imposed on such inmates will not have been fulfilled by the time of parole eligibility calculated pursuant to this subsection, then the inmate shall not become primarily eligible for parole until serving an additional period which shall be one-half of the difference between the primary parole eligibility date calculated pursuant to this subsection and the parole eligibility date calculated pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1948, c.84 (C.30:4-123.12).  If the prosecuting attorney or the sentencing court advises the board that the punitive aspects of the sentence have not been fulfilled, such advice need not be supported by reasons and will be deemed conclusive and final.  Any such decision shall not be subject to judicial review except to the extent mandated by the New Jersey and United States Constitutions.  The board shall, reasonably prior to considering any such case, advise the prosecuting attorney and the sentencing court of all information relevant to such inmate's parole eligibility.

     k.    Notwithstanding any provisions of this section to the contrary, a person sentenced to imprisonment pursuant to [paragraph (2), (3) or (4) of] subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:11-3 shall not be eligible for parole.

     l.      Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections a. through j. of this section, the appropriate board panel, as provided in section 1 of P.L.1997, c.214 (C.30:4-123.51c), may release an inmate serving a sentence of imprisonment on medical parole at any time.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.204, s.6).


     3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides for only the sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for a person convicted of any murder, including juveniles tried as adults and those persons convicted of felony murder.

     Currently, N.J.S.A.2C:11-3 provides for three possible categories of sentences: 30 years without parole; a specific term of years between 30 years and life imprisonment; and life imprisonment without parole. Life imprisonment without parole is only  provided in three instances: (1) the murder of a law enforcement officer (current paragraph (2) of subsection b.); or (2) the murder of a child less than 14 years of age during the commission of a sexual assault or criminal sexual contact (current paragraph (3) of subsection b.); or (3) certain murders where the jury finds at least one of the enumerated aggravating factors which triggers the sentence (current paragraph (4) of subsection b.).

     A juvenile who has been tried as an adult and convicted of murder is currently subject to one of the three categories of sentences. In addition, a person convicted of felony murder is currently subject to two of the three categories of sentences: a term of 30 years without parole or a specific term of years between 30 years and life. Felony murder is an intentional or unintentional murder which occurs during the course of the commission of a robbery, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking, criminal escape or terrorism (current  paragraph (3) of subsection a.).

     This bill eliminates two of three categories of sentences for murder and only allows for life imprisonment without parole for all murders. This bill would delete by amendment paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and (5) of subsection b.