SENATE, No. 1686

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 29, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  ANTHONY R. BUCCO

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Expands crime of bias intimidation to include law enforcement officers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning bias intimidation and law enforcement officers and amending P.L.2001, c.443.

 

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

 

1.     Section 1 of P.L.2001, c.443 (C.2C:16-1) is amended to read as follows:

     2C:16-1.  Bias Intimidation.

     1.    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 law enforcement officer; 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] , or status as a law enforcement officer.

     (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.]  Deleted by amendment, P.L.   , c.     (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

     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 law enforcement officer 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 law enforcement officer.

     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 ; and

     “Law enforcement officer” means a person whose public duties include the power to act as an officer for the detection, apprehension, arrest, conviction, and detention of offenders against the laws of this State.

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

(cf:  P.L.2007, c.303, s.1.)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill expands the crime of bias intimidation to include crimes and offenses committed against law enforcement officers.

     Under current law, a person commits the crime of bias intimidation if he commits one of the enumerated offenses with purpose to intimidate, or with knowledge that commission of the crime will cause intimidation, based on: (1) race, (2) color, (3) religion, (4) gender, (5) disability, (6) sexual orientation, (7) gender identity or expression, (8) national origin, or (9) ethnicity.  The law provides that the crime of bias intimidation is graded one level higher than the underlying offense and that a conviction for bias intimidation will not merge with other convictions.

     As detailed in numerous recent media accounts, there has been a national outbreak of violent and deadly attacks against members of the law enforcement community.  In January of 2015, the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) wrote to Congress and the President of the United States to request that members of the law enforcement community be added as a protected class in the federal hate crime law, due to the targeted nature of the violence.  Both FOP letters noted that of the 47 police deaths by gunfire in 2014, 19 percent were due to so-called “ambush attacks.”  The purposeful targeting of officers has continued into 2015 with multiple fatal attacks.

     In response, it is the sponsor’s intent that this bill provide the protections demanded at the federal level to members of the law enforcement community in the State of New Jersey by expanding the definition of bias intimidation to include crimes committed with purpose to intimidate law enforcement officers.

     Additionally, this bill amends the bias intimidation statute in accordance with the holding in State v. Pomianek, 221 N.J.66, 91 (2015), that paragraph (3) of subsection a. of N.J.S.A.2C:16-1 “fails to give adequate notice of conduct that it “proscribes” and is therefore, unconstitutional.  Consequently, this bill deletes that provision of the law.