TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator John Girgenti, aimed at deterring assaults against healthcare professionals by upgrading the penalties for such an offense, was unanimously approved today by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
“Roughly 30 percent of nurses report having been assaulted while on duty at one time or another,” said Sen. Girgenti (D-Bergen, Passaic). “We’re talking about some of the hardest working professionals out there, people who devote their entire career to saving the lives of others. They should not have to worry about putting their own life at risk while going about their job. Hopefully this bill will serve as a deterrent and make some would-be assailants think twice before acting.”
The bill, S-911, would upgrade the charge of simple assault to aggravated assault if the victim was performing his or her duties as a licensed healthcare professional or a healthcare worker at a licensed healthcare facility. Aggravated assault is a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury; third degree crimes are punishable by three to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000. If the assault does not result in bodily injury, it would be charged as a crime of the fourth degree, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
The bill is consistent with similar penalty upgrades already on the books for assaults against other emergency related professionals, including: law enforcement officers, volunteer firefighters, EMT’s and corrections officers. The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
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