Choking someone during a domestic dispute would become an indictable offense in New Jersey under a bill proposed by a group of state Assemblymen.
Statistics show that choking attacks are an early-warning sign of domestic violence ending in homicides, the legislators said, and the best way to prevent deaths is to increase the penalties, which are currently up to six months in jail, they said.
"The fact that the harshest punishment for this crime is up to sw=ix months in jail and a fine is ludicrous," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer). "The risk of serious injury from a (choking) assault warrants a higher penalty."
The bill would increase the simple assault charge to a count of aggravated assault, which could be prosecuted as a third-degree crime punishable by five years in prison, the legislators said.
"Toughening the penalty for this crime can help protect women who are victimized by keeping their abusers away for a longer period of time," said Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington).
Other states are considering tougher penalties for choking attacks, including Ohio, Kansas and Virginia.