Under current New Jersey law if someone breaks into a home, but doesn't hurt anyone the burglar isn't likely to go to jail. Today, the full General Assembly is scheduled to vote on a bill to change that.

Jail Cell
Flickr User derekskey

Right now the crime of breaking and entering without harming someone is a third degree crime. Under Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick's bill, the offense would be upgraded to at least a second degree crime, meaning prison time is probable. Bramnick said a third degree status doesn't reflect the severity of the crime.

"That makes it very difficult for prosecutors to prosecute a case when they know they'll go to trial, but the person still doesn't get jail," said Bramnick. "We're changing the law to say, 'If you invade someone's home, you place them in fear, you go to jail.' Period. End of story."

Under the Bramnick legislation, if you enter someone's home and you place that person in fear it is a second degree crime, meaning there's a presumption that you're going to jail. If convicted, the offender would also be subject to the state's No Early Release program.

"You must serve 85 percent of the jail term," explained Bramnick. "So, if you go to jail for 10 years you've got to do 8-and-a-half years before you're released. We need to send the message clearly that if you do a home invasion you're going to jail for a long time."

The Assemblyman said people have to be protected in their own homes and if they are in their house when someone breaks in, that someone has to be locked up.

The crime could also be elevated to a first degree offense under certain circumstances.

"Someone who does an attempted home invasion, enters someone's castle and places that person in fear, that person should go away for a long time," insisted Bramnick. "I am dead serious. When you enter my house or someone else's house, you'd know you're going to jail for a long time."

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM