Committee approves Dunn bill increasing strangulation penalties in domestic violence cases

Committee approves Dunn bill increasing strangulation penalties in domestic violence cases

Aura Dunn

TRENTON, N.J. – Domestic abusers who strangle their partners would face longer prison sentences and increased fines under a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Aura Dunn and released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.

Strangulation is one of the strongest predictors for the subsequent homicide of domestic violence victims according to a state board studying domestic violence-related fatalities and near fatalities. Victims of attempted strangulation are seven times more likely to be murdered.

“Unlike other forms of abuse, there is not always visible bruising and swelling with strangulation,” said Dunn (R-Morris). “However, it is a silent killer as victims can quickly lose consciousness and much of the damage is done internally. In order to bring justice to the victim and prevent such crimes from occurring, New Jersey needs to increase the penalties for abusers who employ this lethal form of domestic violence.”

Currently a third-degree crime, Dunn’s bill (A4588) would make strangulation a second-degree crime in domestic violence cases. Prison time would double to up to 10-years from five and fines would increase to up to $150,000 from $15,000.

“Domestic violence has been described as the shadow pandemic. Covid has given offenders even more power and control since their victims are staying home, working from home and socially isolating,” said Dunn. “We must tip the scales and put power in the hands of the justice system to punish abusers to the fullest extent of the law.”

Strangulation was the second most commonly disclosed factor among New Jersey victims who called the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Of the 292 domestic violence-related fatalities reported between 2009 and 2015 in New Jersey, 26 involved strangulation.

The Senate unanimously passed an identical bill (S2503) in January.