TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Fred H. Madden that would upgrade penalties for criminal trespassing from a disorderly persons offense to a fourth degree crime was approved today by the Senate.
“This measure would help provide additional protection for the State’s chemical plants and other public utilities,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “In the event of a terrorist attack, damage done to ‘soft targets’ could result in huge numbers of lives being lost. By upgrading the penalties for criminal trespassing, we would be sending a clear message to would-be terrorists that we will take the necessary precautions to protect the citizens of New Jersey.”
The Senators’ measure, S-1956, would upgrade the penalties for trespassing on facilities that are vulnerable to terrorist attacks or vandalism, including the State’s public utilities and other facilities necessary to New Jersey’s security. The penalty for violating the bill’s provisions would be increased from a disorderly persons offense to fourth degree trespassing, which carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and or fines of up to $10,000.
“As our troops continue to fight the war on terrorism around the world, we have a duty here at home to protect our state and its citizens from possible attacks before they happen,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This bill would tighten our criminal laws to punish those who see our utilities, waste treatment facilities, nuclear plants and other vital parts of our state’s infrastructure as possible targets.”
This measure was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 5. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.