The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S.3684) to impose tougher penalties for physical assaults on senior citizens. The legislation was announced earlier this month at a Capitol news conference following the vicious attacks on Rose Morat, a 101-year-old Queens woman who was mugged on her way to church, and 85-year-old Solange Elizee, who was mugged and beaten just a half hour later by the same attacker.
While the assailant in these two cases could face robbery charges, under current law he would only face a misdemeanor charge for his physical attacks on the two elderly women. In addition, under current law, the penalties for the physical attack on the 101-year-old woman are the same penalties that would exist if the victim had been a 25-year-old football player.
Following the attacks on March 5th, the Senate Majority Task Force on Critical Choices, which Senator Lanza is a member of, began to review the current laws governing physical attacks against the elderly. This review highlighted the fact that under existing law, these types of physical attacks on seniors are only class A misdemeanor offenses, carrying a potential penalty of up to one year in prison. In both of the muggings in Queens, the attacker could also face additional charges associated with the theft of property.
The legislation passed today would make it a class D or class E violent felony to assault any senior over the age of 70. The bill would also make it a class D or class E violent felony to assault someone age 60 or older who suffers from a disease or infirmity associated with advanced age. A class D violent felony conviction carries a potential penalty of up to 7 years in prison, while a class E felony conviction carries a potential penalty of up to 4 years in prison. As violent felony offenses, these crimes carry determinate sentences and the perpetrators will not be eligible for parole.
"Those despicable criminals who would assault and victimize seniors, our parents and grandparents, deserve punishment equal to the heinous character of their crimes," said Senator Andrew Lanza (R, Staten Island).
The bill was sent to the Assembly.