Senate Committee on Aging Chairman Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) today announced legislation that will impose tougher penalties for physical assaults on senior citizens. The announcement follows the recent vicious attack on Rose Morat, a 101-year-old Queens woman who was mugged on her way to church. The same attacker is also suspected of beating and mugging 85-year-old Solange Elizee just a half hour later.
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 was a 25-year-old football player.
"Millions of New Yorkers have been outraged by this despicable and cowardly crime," said Senator Golden, who also serves as the Chairman of the Senate Majority Task Force on Critical Choices. "A person capable of committing this type of crime is not simply a mugger – they are a dangerous menace to society who should be kept behind bars for as long as possible. The bottom line is that anyone who physically attacks a senior citizen should be severely punished, and that’s why the additional penalties provided for by this bill are needed."
"AARP commends Senator Golden and his Senate colleagues today for raising awareness and proposing laws to increase the punishment against individuals who bring harm to vulnerable older persons," said Fran Weatherwax, AARP Member and Volunteer Leader. "We as a society have an obligation to protect vulnerable people in our state."
"The shocking nature of these crimes brings to focus the vulnerability of the elderly in our communities," said Jean Krokenberger, Co-Chair of the Rensselaer County TRIAD. TRIAD, a nationwide organization established by the National Sheriff’s Association, is comprised of local law enforcement, district attorneys, county agencies that provide senior services and community leaders who work together to stop crimes, sexual assault and abuse of the elderly. "Only one in fourteen cases of crimes against seniors – including rape, robbery and assault – is ever reported, giving offenders a sense that it’s okay to beat and abuse our friends, neighbors and family members. This bill properly punishes criminals who prey on the elderly and shows our senior citizens that their safety and quality of life are our priorities."
"It absolutely sickens me to know that a criminal would target a senior citizen to commit such a violent attack," continued Senator Marty Golden. "We need to take immediate action to protect our senior citizens so they can feel safe on their streets and in their own neighborhoods. Criminals need to know that if they target and assault a senior citizen, they will go to jail for a long, long time."
Following the attacks which took place on March 5th, the Senate 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. A class A misdemeanor carries 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 announced today would make it a class D or class E violent felony to assault any senior over the age of 70. The bill will 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.