TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Fred H. Madden that would upgrade current penalties for criminal trespassing from a disorderly persons offense to a 4th degree crime was approved today by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This measure would help protect the health and safety of millions of New Jerseyans by working to defend the State’s public utilities and chemical facilities,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “By increasing the penalties for criminal trespassing, we would be sending a clear message to would-be terrorists that tampering with the residents of New Jersey and any State-owned property would result in serious consequences.”
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. Penalties for violations 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.
“Any strike carried out against the State’s chemical facilities could result in huge numbers of lost lives and property damage,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This measure would strengthen current protections and also let law enforcement go after people who trespass to check out possible targets to attack. We must send a clear message that we will not allow chemical facilities, utilities and other ‘soft targets’ to be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
This measure now awaits a vote by the full Senate.