Panter, Greenstein Bill Enhancing Stalking Law Protections Clears AssemblyJanuary 7, 2008 - 4:21pm
Tags: Linda Greenstein, Mike Panter, Stalking,
Release Date: Jan 7 2008
PANTER/GREENSTEIN BILL ENHANCING STALKING LAW PROTECTIONS CLEARS ASSEMBLY
(TRENTON) - The Assembly today passed legislation Assembly members Mike Panter and Linda R. Greenstein sponsored to strengthen the state's anti-stalking laws.
"With the advent of near instant communication, the opportunities for individuals to engage in stalking and harassment have increased exponentially, making victims more vulnerable than ever," said Panter (D-Monmouth). "Our laws need to be adjusted to reflect this new challenge so we may better protect innocent people from unwanted attention and advances."
The Panter/Greenstein measure (A-4354) - which passed by a vote of 80-0 - would expand the definitions and enhance the penalties found in the state's stalking statute. Specifically, a person would be guilty of third-degree stalking if he or she purposefully or knowingly engages in behavior that causes victims to fear for their safety or suffer severe emotional distress. Third-degree stalking carries penalties of up to $15,000 in fines and five years in jail.
Under the bill, a person who commits the following crimes would be subject to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of six months without parole:
Stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting that behavior;
Repeat instances of stalking the same victim;
Stalking while serving a term of imprisonment or on parole or probation; and
Stalking a victim who is a minor.
Additionally, the measure would broaden the legal definition of "course of conduct" with reference to stalking to include harassment by means other than personal contact and contact by phone.
"Stalking is a serious crime that can damage a person's life and leave lasting scars," said Greenstein (D-Middlesex). "We must do more to protect people from unwanted, unrelenting, and unnerving attention."