NEW JERSEY – By unanimous vote, the Assembly passed Assemblywoman Aura Dunn’s bill increasing penalties for domestic abusers who strangle their partners.
Currently a third-degree crime, the bill (A4588/S2503) makes strangulation a second-degree crime in domestic violence cases. Prison time would double to up to 10 years from five and fines would increase to up to $150,000 from $15,000.
“Unlike other forms of abuse, there is not always visible bruising and swelling with strangulation,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “It is a silent killer as victims can quickly lose consciousness and much of the damage is done internally. In order to bring justice to the victim and prevent such crimes from occurring, New Jersey needs to increase the penalties for abusers who inflict this lethal form of domestic violence.”
Strangulation is one of the strongest predictors for the subsequent homicide of domestic violence victims according to a state board studying domestic violence-related fatalities and near fatalities. Victims of attempted strangulation are seven times more likely to be murdered.
“Domestic violence has been described as the shadow pandemic. Covid-related government shutdowns have given offenders even more power and control since their victims are staying home, working from home and socially isolating,” Dunn said. “We must tip the scales and put power in the hands of the justice system to punish abusers to the fullest extent of the law.”
Strangulation was the second most commonly disclosed factor among New Jersey victims who called the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Of the 292 domestic violence-related fatalities reported between 2009 and 2015 in New Jersey, 26 involved strangulation.
The Senate unanimously passed an identical bill in January.