One of the more powerful political figures in NJ, Senator Raymond Lesniak, was the victim of a burglary two days ago.  The burglary escalated into a Robbery when the Senator encountered the intruders and was threatened unless he handed over all cash contained in his Elizabeth New Jersey home.  Lesniak resides in an upscale section of Elizabeth in the area of Kean University. 

The incident offers a practical illustration of both burglary and robbery.  N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2 defines a burglary in New Jersey as entry into a structure without a license or privilege. This offense is normally a third degree crime but becomes a second degree offense where the perpetrator inflicts or threatens to commit bodily harm to someone during the commission of the burglary.

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, Robbery is the use or threat to use force during the course of a theft. Robbery is a second degree crime but is enhanced to a first degree offense where a suspect attempts to kill, inflicts or attempts to inflict serious bodily injury, is armed, or where he threatens the immediate use of a deadly weapon. 

In the Lesniak theft case, one of the defendants threatened to “shoot him”.  This fact would probably take an incident which would otherwise give rise to a Second Degree Burglary charge and escalate it to a First Degree Robbery case. These guys are in a heap of trouble if they are apprehended and even our Union County Criminal Defense Attorneys would have a hard time mitigate the situation.