TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator John A. Girgenti to upgrade the penalty for simple assault to an aggravated assault charge if the victim is a nurse, was approved by the full Senate today.
“Violence against nurses occurs frequently and has a substantial effect on the well-being and job satisfaction of all health care providers,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic. “Because violence in the workplace is an underreported concern for many health care workers, it has been difficult to stop. By changing our laws and toughing our penalties against those who harm nurses, we can deter these violent acts and improve the quality of life for those in the health care field.”
The bill, S-1779, would upgrade the crime of simple assault against a nurse to an aggravated assault crime.
Senator Girgenti noted that, under current law, a person is guilty of simple assault if the person attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon, or attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
According to Senator Girgenti, The US Department of Justice reported that each year, 430,000 nurses are victims of violent crimes in the workplace. The American Nurses Association found that 25% of nurses said that physical assault was a top safety concern for them.
“Simple assault is usually a disorderly persons offense, while aggravated assault falls into several categories based on the degree of harm, the degree of disregard for the safety of another, or the weapon used,” said Senator Girgenti.
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.