Senator Flanagan Fights To Improve Tools Available To Law Enforcement

John J. Flanagan

June 22, 2006

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today announced passage of two pieces of legislation he sponsored that will greatly enhance the prosecution of criminals in New York State. Both pieces of legislation would provide the law enforcement community with new tools to fight crime and to catch those who perpetrate crime in New York State.

To protect the rights of victims of rape, Senator Flanagan sponsored legislation that would end the statute of limitations. This legislation would enable police to prosecute these heinous crimes regardless of the passage of time and stop rapists from avoiding punishment.

"Allowing for a loophole for rapists is ludicrous and this legislation closes that loophole. Victims of rape live with the pain of their experience and time should not protect those who would inflict such pain," stated Senator Flanagan. "Just as murderers are not allowed to escape justice due to time, now sexual predators will face the same reality."

The legislation would 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 agreement extends their right to sue their attacker from the current one year to five years. This civil statute of limitations would be either five years after an incident or five years following the close of any criminal proceeding.

A companion piece of legislation, also sponsored in the Senate by Senator Flanagan, would enhance one of the tools available to the law enforcement community. The legislation would expand the DNA databank to include samples from all convicted of a felony and eighteen common misdemeanors.

According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice web site, the New York State DNA Databank is 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.

"This will increase the effectiveness of the DNA database and assist the efforts of law enforcement today, tomorrow and in the foreseeable future. The career criminal should know that they are on file with New York State, in conjunction with the federal government, and that their criminal activity will catch up with them," stated Senator Flanagan. "No more hiding, no more sinking into the background and no more evading justice."

The eighteen misdemeanors that would require mandatory DNA sampling would 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.

"I am proud to have fought for both of these important pieces of legislation and congratulate all the members of the New York State Legislature for continuing to fight for what is right. Both of these actions let crime victims know that their rights come first and tell criminals that law enforcement will have the tools to find and convict you no matter how long you run and no matter where you hide," stated Senator Flanagan.

Both pieces of legislation have passed both houses of the New York State Legislature and will be sent to the Governor for approval.