SANTA FE — Legislation that will toughen penalties for convicted child abusers and those whose abuse contributes to the death of a child passed the House floor Thursday by a vote of 50-10.
“This bill protects our children by going after the predators that intentionally seek to harm them,” said Rep. Conrad James, R-Bernalillo, the bill’s sponsor. “Tonight, we sent a message that child abuse will not be tolerated.”
Currently, those who intentionally beat a child to death only face life in prison if the victim was under the age of 12. This is called Baby Brianna’s Law, named after Brianna Lopez who was raped and killed by members of her own family. Under James’s bill, those who intentionally harm a child leading to the child’s death would face life in prison no matter the child’s age.
The bill will also toughen penalties for child abusers, increasing the penalty for the first offense from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. After the first offense, it would increase from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.