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New Jersey Criminalizes Threatening Police with Coronavirus

Date: April 3, 2020

by Bob Towey 

New Jersey residents who threaten to infect police officers with the coronavirus will face enhanced criminal charges according to a new order.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued the mandate on Monday in response to a rash of incidents over the last two weeks involving New Jersey residents who allegedly spat and coughed at police officers to contaminate them with the virus. Grewal’s office intervened in six cases first charged by local police.

“We take all assaults on police officers seriously, but it is especially heinous for someone to spit or cough at an officer in an attempt to infect or threaten to infect them with COVID-19,” Grewal said in a statement.

The state has nearly 400 police officers battling the coronavirus with over 3,000 others currently in quarantine, state officials said in a press briefing on March 31.

The Division of Criminal Justice issued charges of fourth-degree aggravated assault on an officer in all six cases. Each defendant also received second-degree charges of making terroristic threats during a state of emergency.

Grewal’s statement describes that second-degree crimes can incur a five to 10-year prison sentence plus a fine of up to $150,000. Fourth-degree crimes can bring up to an 18-month prison sentence and $10,000 fine.

“We have zero tolerance for anyone who uses the coronavirus as a weapon or instrument of terror against officers bravely performing their duties during this health crisis,” Grewal said.

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