The Trentonian News – David Foster

TRENTON >> Assemblyman Reed Gusciora hopes to make life a little more miserable for creepers.

Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) has co-sponsored two bills to target stalkers and stranglers that have both cleared the Assembly judiciary committee.

For the bipartisan stalking bill, Gusciora teamed with Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz (R-Union, Somerset and Morris) after hearing a story about her dentist’s daughter.

Gusciora said the victim had to move out of state because the guy wouldn’t leave her alone.

“He was showing up at work, he was showing up at the house, and he showed up at school,” the 15th district assemblyman said last week. “There are certain people that restraining orders are just a piece of paper. But once it gets to the point where they’re convicted of it twice, that means they pretty much are ignoring that court order.”

To deal with the problem, Gusciora’s legislation will require an electronic monitoring device for a person convicted twice of stalking the same victim.

“This would actually require them to wear an ankle bracelet and then the victim would actually be notified when the stalker is in the area,” the assemblyman said. “At least they can get to safety before the stalker gets to them.”

Even when the daughter of Munoz’s dentist moved out of state, the stalker still persisted in his pursuit, Gusciora said.

“The guy actually went to the postal service and was able to defraud them and got her forwarding address,” said Gusciora, who is seeking re-election next year. “He showed up out of state. There are people that are just obsessed and will not take no for an answer.”

The bill would require the person being monitored to pay for the cost of the ankle bracelet. If the ankle bracelet is tampered with or removed, the stalker will be hit with a third-degree offense, Gusciora said.

As he has witnessed firsthand as a municipal prosecutor, Gusciora is also looking to strengthen strangulation crimes.

“Right now, strangulation is just a simple assault along with other domestic violence,” Gusciora said, noting the harshest punishment is six months in jail and a fine. “There’s more and more incidents were domestic violence actually results in choking.”

Gusciora said his measure would distinguish between a push and shove or even a punch.

“Strangulation you’re cutting off the air duct,” he said. “It’s almost akin to attempted murder. This would rise the crime to the level of a felony.”

If there is serious injury, it would be a third-degree offense. For red marks around the neck, it would be a fourth-degree crime.

“Domestic violence is getting more complicated and sophisticated, and the punishment really doesn’t fit the crime in the present mode,” Gusciora said of strangulation tactics.

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