Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced today that Governor George Pataki has signed two new laws to protect victims of crime. The two new laws, which Senator Flanagan sponsored, will provide law enforcement community with new tools to fight crime and to catch those who perpetrate crime in New York State.
One law ends the statute of limitations for the crime of rape. This will enable police to prosecute these crimes regardless of the passage of time and prevent rapists from escaping punishment.
"Previous laws allowed rapists to avoid prosecution by running from law enforcement. This new law puts an end to that ludicrous practice. Rape victims deserve our protection and our laws must reflect the idea that the victims are the ones whose rights are important," declared Senator Flanagan. "Murderers are not able to escape justice and now rapists will not be allowed to either."
The law will eliminate the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of Class B felony sexual assault crimes including first degree rape, first degree criminal sexual act (formerly called sodomy), first degree aggravated sexual abuse and first degree course of sexual conduct against a child.
To ensure that victims of rape have a longer period to pursue civil action as well, the change in the law extends their right to sue their attacker from the current one year to five years. This civil statute of limitations will be either five years after an incident or five years following the close of any criminal proceeding.
A second law sponsored by Senator Flanagan will enhance the reach of the New York State DNA databank by increasing the number of crimes that require a sample. The new law now requires all those convicted of a felony and those convicted of eighteen common misdemeanors to submit a DNA sample for cataloging.
According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justiceweb site, the NEW YORK STATE DNA Databankis a computerized collection of DNA descriptions or "profiles" derived from DNA samples. The DNA Databank is maintained at the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany.
The NYS DNA Databank became fully operational in April 2000 and is part of a national system called Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. The primary function of the NYS DNA Databank is to maintain DNA profiles of convicted offenders that can be used by law enforcement to identify a perpetrator of a crime when DNA evidence is retrieved from a crime scene.
"DNA today is what the fingerprint was years ago and any tool that will allow law enforcement to track down criminals is a tool they should have. This will help in unsolved cases, will lead to quicker capturing of criminals and should help the police protect our community," stated Senator Flanagan. "No more hiding, no more sinking into the background and no more evading justice."
The eighteen misdemeanors that will require mandatory DNA sampling will include menacing in the 2nd and 3rd degrees, reckless endangerment in the 2nd degree, petit larceny, stalking in the 3rd and 4th degrees, unlawful imprisonment in the 2nd degree, criminal trespass in the 2nd degree, possession of burglars tools, sexual abuse in the 3rd degree, forcible touching, endangering the welfare of a child and endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person.
"These new laws will make New York State residents safer and will better equip the men and women in law enforcement. Both measures let the crime victim know that their rights are protected and tell the criminals that you will be caught if you commit a crime in New York State," concluded Senator Flanagan.
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