Assemblyman Joe Lentol Discusses Groundbreaking Home Invasion Legislation on NBC

November 6, 2009

Assemblyman Joe Lentol was on NBC news last night to discuss his new legislation regarding home invasions. This legislation would create a new section of the law. The law would consist of three categories of felony home invasion punishable by up to 7, 15 and 25 years in prison. This would be a very new approach to dealing with home invasions.

“I think home invasion are really frightening to people. There is a reason these dominate the news when they happen. There is a reason so many horror and suspense movies are made with this theme. It’s playing on people’s worst fears,” said Assemblyman Lentol about why he felt that this legislation was necessary.

When asked to elaborate on this Assemblyman Lentol said that there are two major reasons as to why he feels that Home Invasion deserves to be its own class of crime.

“First, and I can’t stress this enough, this is an extremely dangerous, volatile situation. Children are often present, entire families are often present. People want to protect their families. This can escalate quickly,” explained Assemblyman Lentol. “Offenders who are careless enough or willing to enter a home when people are present are unpredictable, have a high willingness to take risks, and therefore often violent. This is, without question, a situation we need to deter,” the Assemblyman continued.

“Second, I think we have all heard the phrase a man’s home is his castle. It is the one place where a family should feel safe,” said Lentol. “Throughout the law and history, we give special recognition to the home as a special place, with special protections built in. For example, and of course this is a totally different situation but still shows the importance of the home, the law requires that you need a search warrant before entering it. This is another way that the law can give recognition to the sanctity of the home,” he added.

When asked why the current law is not good enough Assemblyman Lentol explained that “It is like trying to take a bunch of small round pegs and fit it through a square hole. The prosecutor has lots of laws to choose from but none of them quite fit and certainly none of them reflect the gravity of the crime.”

He went on to explain that too often the prosecutor takes a bunch of little laws like menacing and burglary and assault and charges them all together in an attempt to get across what the Home Invasion law would do by itself.

When you have a bunch of smaller crimes like that there is a chance that the jury might agree with you on two but think that maybe you didn’t prove all of the pieces of menacing and so you only get guilty verdicts on two, so the true weight of the crime doesn’t come across in the sentence. It’s much easier when a prosecutor only has one very simple crime to focus on, which is what the home invasion legislation does.

Lastly, Assemblyman Lentol explained that he wanted his legislation to act as a deterrent. While the FBI does not report annual statistics on home invasions, its Uniform Crime Reports show that across the country, robberies in homes rose 29 percent between 2000 and 2004, 9.7 percent in 2005 and another 8 percent in 2006, the last year for which figures were available.

“We want people and criminals to start seeing this as a separate crime, not just a burglary gone wrong. I want them to think twice about whether someone might be home before they break into a home. At this point something has to be done, I’m willing to try anything,” he concluded.

The interview aired as part of a special segment on home invasions for November sweeps month.