Bill in New Jersey would upgrade penalties for burglaries to stop juveniles from becoming repeat offenders

A new bill is being voted in that would upgrade penalties for burglary, and in exchange, hopefully curtail people - especially juveniles- from becoming repeat offenders.

Amanda Eustice

Jul 9, 2024, 9:47 PM

Updated 15 days ago


A new bill in New Jersey is being voted on that would upgrade penalties for burglary and in exchange hopefully curtail people - especially juveniles- from becoming repeat offenders. A Sunoco Gas station along Route 3 East in Secaucus is the most recent arrest site for two juveniles charged for a stolen vehicle.
Police say the driver, a 15-year-old boy and the passenger, a 16-year-old boy, are repeat offenders with a slew of charges for other crimes.
"There is an epidemic, and any time there is an epidemic there needs to be a response," said Secaucus Police Chief Dennis Miller.
And it seems to be getting worse.
Miller says a 17-year-old was arrested by police for having a stolen vehicle. He points out that the teen was arrested a week prior for similar charges in Bellville but says his department cannot detain him because he cannot use the open charges already filed against him.
Miller says it's not just the crimes that's the issue, but rather the inability to fully hold these individuals accountable and uphold the law.
"Allowing the juveniles to operate impunity is only enabling them to commit more crimes in the future, and we're training them that it's OK, and there's not accountability, and we're actually doing them an in justice," said Miller.
The chief says in the last two weeks, there have been three separate incidents involving juveniles committing crimes. He's hoping a new bill that just recently passed in the Senate to upgrade penalties for burglary will help hold them accountable for their actions.
"Prosecutors and law enforcement are looking for ways to be able to detain these individuals in order for there to be that deterrent so that people know you commit this crime, you're going to do the time," said Senate Republican Leader Anthony Bucco (District 25). The bill is sponsored by Bucco.
It would upgrade the penalty for burglarizing a residential home.
Currently, home burglary is considered a third-degree crime and upgraded to a second-degree crime when an individual is armed or attempts to inflict or threaten bodily harm.
Under the bill, the penalty for home burglary would be upgraded to a second-degree crime and upgraded to the first-degree when the defendant is armed.
"Breaking it out into these two different crimes will give judges and prosecutors more of an option to be able to detain these folks, which creates a deterrent. If there is no deterrent, if there's no consequence, then people are going to continue to commit these crimes," said Bucco.
Officials say the hope is to rehabilitate offenders before they turn to a life full of crime.
The bill now heads to the General Assembly for a vote.

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