Have you heard of self-immolation? A suicidal-sacrificial form of protest, it includes but is not limited to setting oneself on fire. For example, some self-immolation martyrs include Thích Quảng Đức, Jan Zajíc, and Evžen Plocek. To be certain, however, this form of altruistic suicide is for a collective cause. Additionally, martyrs do not intend to inflict physical harm on others or cause material damage. Instead, they merely intend to attract attention to a cause. Therefore, if performed for these selfless motives, the martyr is not causing or risking widespread injury or damage. Contrarily, a man in Woodbridge recently doused himself with fuel and tried to light himself on fire.
Indeed, the 35-year-old allegedly poured 17 gallons of diesel on himself and the ground near the gas pumps. Additionally, the naked man tried to ignite the fuel with a lighter. Nevertheless, nothing caught fire. Furthermore, adding insult to the absence of injury, Woodbridge police charged him with Causing or Risking Widespread Injury or Damage. It is more likely, however, that they charged with an attempt to commit this crime.
Causing or Risking Widespread Injury or Damage, N.J.S.A. 2c:17-2
(1) A person who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes an explosion, flood, avalanche, collapse of a building, release or abandonment of poison gas, radioactive material or any other harmful or destructive substance commits a crime of the second degree. A person who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes widespread injury or damage in any manner commits a crime of the second degree.
(2) A person who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes a hazardous discharge required to be reported pursuant to the “Spill Compensation and Control Act,” P.L.1976, c.141 (C.58:10-23.11 et seq.) or any rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, or who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes a release or abandonment of hazardous waste as defined in section 1 of P.L.1976, c.99 (C.13:1E-38) or a toxic pollutant as defined in section 3 of P.L.1977, c.74 (C.58:10A-3) commits a crime of the second degree. Any person who recklessly violates the provisions of this paragraph is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
A person who recklessly causes widespread injury or damage is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
A person who recklessly creates a risk of widespread injury or damage commits a crime of the fourth degree, even if no such injury or damage occurs. A violation of this subsection is a crime of the third degree if the risk of widespread injury or damage results from the reckless handling or storage of hazardous materials. A violation of this subsection is a crime of the second degree if the handling or storage of hazardous materials violated any law, rule or regulation intended to protect the public health and safety.
A person who knowingly or recklessly fails to take reasonable measures to prevent or mitigate widespread injury or damage commits a crime of the fourth degree, if:
- He knows that he is under an official, contractual or other legal duty to take such measures; or
- He did or assented to the act causing or threatening the injury or damage.
For purposes of this section, widespread injury or damage means serious bodily injury to five or more people or damage to five or more habitations or to a building which would normally have contained 25 or more persons at the time of the offense.
Did the cops charge you with Causing or Risking Widespread Injury or Damage?
New Jersey Criminal Attorney Michael A. Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide confidential consultations in all cases involving Causing or Risking Widespread Injury or Damage under N.J.S.A. 2c:17-2.