Though it can cause considerable physical and emotional damage to victims, the act of a home invasion alone is currently not a punishable violent crime in Maryland. A new bill introduced Wednesday could change that.
In Montgomery County, Md., 24 home invasions were reported to police last year. They are terrifying crimes that leave victims with physical and emotional injuries.
In Chevy Chase Village, Betty Tubbs was attacked by a man who broke in through a window and waited until she went to bed.
"When I got to the basement, he came from the unfinished side into the recreation room and pushed me on the floor and tied me up and gagged me,” Tubbs said. “He proceeded to go upstairs every level of the house and look for stuff."
The phrase “home invasion” is common but is not classified as a crime. In Annapolis, Delegate Susan Lee (D-Montgomery County) is introducing a bill that would change that.
"It will create stiffer penalties, up to 30 years max, making it a very serious crime with harsh penalties," Lee said.
Police and prosecutors believe that designating home invasion as a "violent crime" with a stiff penalty will do a lot to protect the public.
"I think it's a deterrent,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. “The penalty is greater. It changes how it will be treated under the Maryland sentencing guidelines. The suggested sentence to judges across Maryland would increase."
In January home invasions, robberies and sexual assaults were reported in Wheaton, Bethesda and Temple Hills. Kevin Darnell Ray has been arrested and charged in those cases. All 950 Maplewood homeowners felt victimized, Maplewood Civic Association President Allen Myers said.
"They all feel it happened here, it happened to us,” he said. “I could have been out getting into my car and have someone come up to me with a gun and haul me into the house and rob me."