Assemblyman Joe Lentol will re-introduce legislation this upcoming session to create a new section of the law for home invasions. The law will consist of three classes of felony home invasion – punishable by up to 7, 15 and 25 years in prison. Typically, home invasions are charged like various less serious crimes, such as robbery and assault, despite their violent natures.
Very few states legally define home invasion as a separate crime, requiring most prosecutors to use various laws, while none of them quite fit and certainly none of them reflect the gravity of the crime.
“There is a reason why home invasions dominate the news when they happen,” Lentol said. “There is a reason there are so many horror and suspense movies made with this theme. It’s playing on people’s worst fears.”
In light of recent events that have plagued Greenpoint there are varying reasons why home invasions should be treated differently, Lentol explained.
“Home invasions create a seriously volatile situation, as whole families are usually present,” he said. “People want to protect their families and as a result things can escalate quickly.”
Throughout history, the law has provided special recognition to the home as a special place with certain protections, such as laws requiring a search warrant before entering a home.
Due to the undefined nature of home invasions on the federal level, reporting on the crime is very limited. The most recent data is from 2003 to 2007. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occurred each year during this time period. In about 28% of these burglaries, a household member was present during the burglary. In 7% of all household burglaries, a household member experienced some form of violent victimization.
“We want people and criminals to start seeing this as a separate crime, not just a burglary gone wrong,” Lentol said. “Criminals should think twice about whether someone might be home before they break in.”
Assemblyman Lentol, Councilmember Steve Levin and the 94th Precinct will host a public safety forum on August 27th, from 6PM-8PM at the Polish Slavic Center (176 Java Street) followed by a sexual assault prevention workshop by the Center for Anti-Violence Education.