FREEHOLD, NJ – A new law proposed by New Jersey Assemblyman Ron Dancer could make it a felony if passed in Trenton and signed by Governor Phil Murphy to spit on a police officer. Sadly, Dancer will now have to convince the state Democrat majority that this law is a good idea and work overtime to get support in one of America’s bluest states.
“A person who throws a bodily fluid at a Department of Corrections employee, county correctional police officer, juvenile correctional police officer, State juvenile facility employee, juvenile detention staff member, probation officer, any sheriff, undersheriff or sheriff’s officer or any municipal, county, or State law enforcement officer while in the performance of the person’s duties or otherwise purposely subjects [such] an employee to contact with a bodily fluid commits an aggravated assault,” Dancer’s law reads. “If the victim suffers bodily injury, this shall be a crime of the third degree. If the victim’s food was spit upon or beverage spit into, this shall be a crime of the third degree, and, notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:43-3, the person shall be fined $15,000. Otherwise, this shall be a crime of the fourth degree. A term of imprisonment imposed for this offense shall run consecutively to any term of imprisonment currently being served and to any other term imposed for another offense committed at the time of the assault. Nothing herein shall be deemed to preclude, if the evidence so warrants, an indictment and conviction for a violation or attempted violation of chapter 11 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes [or] , subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:12-1.”
This bill clarifies that spitting on the food or into the beverage of a law enforcement officer constitutes aggravated assault. The bill also requires restaurants to impose certain sanctions on an employee who engages in this conduct.
Under current law, a person who throws a bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer while in the performance of the person’s duties or otherwise purposely subjects the officer to contact with a bodily fluid commits aggravated assault. It is a crime of the third degree if the officer suffers bodily injury. Otherwise, it is a crime of the fourth degree. A third degree crime generally is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. Fourth degree crimes are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of $10,000, or both.
Dancer’s bill clarifies that subjecting a law enforcement officer to contact with a bodily fluid includes spitting on an officer’s food or into the officer’s beverage and that this is a crime of the third degree. In addition to the three to five-year term of imprisonment, the bill provides for a mandatory fine of $15,000.
The bill also requires a restaurant employer to suspend an employee who is charged with aggravated assault for spitting in an officer’s food or drink and fire the employee if convicted of the crime. A restaurant employer who violates this provision is to be civilly fined up to $500 for the first violation and up to $1,000 for each subsequent violation. The bill defines a restaurant as “any facility or part thereof in which food is prepared and provided or served for consumption on the premises, but shall not include mobile food establishments or any temporary food establishment which operates at a fixed location for a limited period of time in connection with a fair, carnival, public exhibition, or similar transitory gathering or charitable fund raising event.”