By now you've probably heard of or have seen videos of the so-called "knockout game" where somebody punches someone else in the face without warning. Under current New Jersey law the offender could skate without doing prison time, but a pair of legislators thinks these sucker punchers deserve mandatory jail time.

Knockout Game
Knockout Game (YouTube)

"In New Jersey, if you punch someone that could be a simple assault and that means you could get probation, you could get a minor criminal fine," Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Westfield, said. "Under my bill, it's a 3rd degree (crime). It's an aggravated assault and you have to do half of the prison term that you've been sentenced to."

The legislation specifies that a person guilty of a "knockout game" aggravated assault must serve a minimum prison term of one-third to one-half of the three to five year sentence and would not be eligible for parole. The measure is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Cream Ridge.

"Knockout is not a game," Bramnick said. "It is a violent and dangerous act. As legislators, we must ensure that our laws address the newest inceptions of violence with the harshest possible penalties. The public must be protected by giving prosecutors the tools they need to put criminals behind bars."

Under the measure, by separately defining a "knockout game" assault within the broader third-degree aggravated assault provisions, the bill is then able to establish a separate, more significant term of imprisonment specifically for such an act.

Bramnick acknowledged it's unclear how prevalent the "knockout game" is, but said even if it happens just once, that's one time too many.

"Randomly punching someone with the intent to render them unconscious is anything but a game," Dancer said. "It's a new, sick form of violence being perpetrated by teens on innocent, unsuspecting people that can, and has, resulted in death. It's becoming a public safety issue and that's why we need to address it immediately."


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