Senator Farley Reports Nys Senate Legislation Would Impose Stiffer Penalties For Attacks On Elderly

Hugh T. Farley

March 30, 2007

The New York State Senate recently passed legislation (S.3684) to
impose tougher penalties for physical assaults on senior citizens. This
bill responds to a number of incidents, including the recent vicious
attacks on a 101-year-old Queens woman who was mugged on her way to church,
and on an 85-year-old who was mugged and beaten just a half hour later by
the same attacker.
Following the attacks on March 5th, the Senate Majority Task Force on
Critical Choices 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. Currently, the penalties for a physical attack on a 101-year-old
woman are the same that would apply if the victim was a 25-year-old
football player, even though the health consequences of the attack may be
much more severe for the elderly person.
The Senate legislation 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 would not be
eligible for parole.
Although the Senate has worked to discourage crime by establishing
tougher penalties, it remains important to take steps to reduce your
chances of being a crime victim. For example, lock your house at all times,
even when you are at home. Only a few weeks ago, a man entered a Broadalbin
couple's home to attempt a burglary. Fortunately, he was deterred by the
homeowner and law enforcement officials caught the individual. Not all of
us could be so lucky. Here are a few more simple steps recommended by law
enforcement officials to help protect your home, your valuables and
yourself against crime:
* Avoid walking on dark streets, especially if you know the area has
a high crime rate or bad reputation.
* Set up a buddy system or Neighborhood Watch in your community.
* Carry your purse or bag close to the body with a firm grasp, not
dangling where it can be easily stolen.
* Take advantage of direct deposit service for your paycheck. It is
typically a free service that saves you trips to the bank and having to
carry unnecessary cash.
* Keep valuables, such as jewelry and coin or stamp collections, in a
safe deposit box.
* Don't give strangers personal information on the telephone. Be sure
to report disturbing calls to the police and phone company.