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Our New Jersey readers are likely familiar with the rumored "Knockout Game." The game refers to reports of a number of violent attacks in which a person sneaks up behind a random pedestrian and tries to knock that person out with a single punch to the head. In New Jersey, the game received considerable attention after a man died in Hoboken in what state officials said might have been a "Knockout Game" assault. Reports of alleged violent crimes related to the game have grown widely across the U.S. in recent months.

To address growing concern over the rumored game, two New Jersey state assemblymen introduced a bill recently that would create a mandatory minimum prison term for anyone convicted of aggravated assault in connection with the game. Currently in New Jersey, aggravated assault is a third-degree crime that can carry a penalty of three to five years in jail and a $15,000 fine. The authors of the bill, however, argue that few people convicted of aggravated assault actual serve time. The new measure seeks to change that.

Despite the Assemblymen's desire to create harsh new penalties for participants in the game, some police officials have questioned whether the game is anything at all. Instead, some authorities argue that these attacks are simply random assaults and, although serious, such crimes have always occurred. Nevertheless, as legislators, the co-sponsors of the bill argued that it is their duty to address the newest inception of violence. In the present case, that duty appears to extend to a "game" which may or may not be taking place.

Whether the new measure passes the state assembly or not, the crime of aggravated assault is still a very serious criminal offense. And, if the lawmakers get their way and the new measure passes, anyone convicted of an aggravated assault charge related to the "Knockout Game" must serve one-third to one-half of the three to five years without the possibility for parole, without question.

Source: NJ.com, "'Knockout Game' bill: N.J. lawmakers introduce measure mandating minimum prison term," Brent Johnson, Dec. 12, 2013

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