2008-05-09 / Top Stories

New Penalties For Assaulting The Elderly

Governor David A. Paterson Governor David A. Paterson Governor David A. Paterson today announced the signing of legislation to help curb predatory attacks on New York's elderly. Governor Paterson was joined for the bill signing at St. Margaret's House on Fulton Street by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and several members of the State Legislature, which overwhelmingly approved the bill.

The law, known as "Granny's Law," was sparked in part by last year's brutal beatings of 101-year-old Rose Morat and 85-year-old Solange Elizee of Queens. If an assailant is 10 years younger than a victim, the bill will increase the penalty for assaulting a person 65 years or older from a class A misdemeanor to second-degree assault - a Class D violent felony that is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

"It is unconscionable that anyone would assault a senior citizen, but we continue to witness these disturbing acts of violence," said Governor Paterson. "I am pleased that my colleagues in the Legislature worked together to pass this legislation, and that this bill provides a measure of safety for our elderly."

Under current law, an intentional assault that causes physical injury to the victim constitutes third-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. The charge is elevated to second-degree assault if there are certain aggravating factors, such as intentionally causing "serious" physical injury, intentionally causing physical injury with a deadly weapon, or causing injury to particular types of victims (i.e. police or peace officers, students, or teachers) who are more likely to be targeted by criminals.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, "Last year, 101-year-old Rose Morat and 85-year-old Solange Elizee were brutally attacked within a half-hour of each other, and New Yorkers were outraged by the cowardly, despicable act.

As elected officials, our biggest responsibility is protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and I'd like to commend Senators Golden, Maltese, and Padavan for their tireless dedication in getting this legislation passed and signed into law today. It's truly horrendous when criminals seek out and assault the elderly - with this law we are ensuring they will be properly punished."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly, said, "This legislation is a simple matter of dignity, justice and respect. After lifetimes spent working jobs, raising their families, paying their taxes, serving their communities, and defending this nation, our senior citizens deserve all of the respect, all of the protection, all of the compassion, and all of the assistance this government can provide. The enactment of this law puts New York at the forefront of ensuring that those who prey upon the elderly and the frail are punished swiftly and severely."

Senator Martin Golden, the bill's lead Senate sponsor, said, "Millions of New Yorkers were outraged by the despicable and cowardly attacks against Rose Morat and Solange Elizee. A person capable of attacking the elderly 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 law are very much needed."

Senator Serphin Maltese said, "We cannot allow seniors to be targeted and assaulted simply because they are not physically able to defend themselves. When anyone gets mugged and assaulted, I consider it to be a serious crime, but assaulting the elderly is an outrageous and potentially life-threatening crime that clearly calls out for more severe penalties. We have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable in our society."

Senator Frank Padavan said, "Last year the brutal muggings of my constituents Rose Morat and Solange Elizee sparked outrage across the entire country and illustrated the need for stronger state laws to combat crimes against elderly. Now with the enactment of 'Granny's Law' today, New York will have the criminal penalties needed to put any cowardly delinquent who attacks a senior citizen behind bars." Assembly Codes Committee Chair Joseph R. Lentol said, "This legislation sends a message in New York we intend to protect our seniors from those who seek to prey on our most vulnerable citizens."

Assembly Judiciary Chair Helene Weinstein said, "Seniors often appear as soft targets for criminals. Like all citizens, they must be afforded the protection to live and work safely, and to enjoy retirement and family after years of hard work without falling prey to those who may cruelly exploit their age. With the enactment of this legislation, New York helps ensure our seniors that the law stands with them and that crimes against them are recognized for their sheer brutality and senselessness."

Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer said, "Elder abuse should not be tolerated, and these measures take steps to stop this shameful behavior. Our seniors deserve, at the very least, peace of mind. We must do all we can to protect them and to provide them with that peace of mind, and one way to do that is to deter potential crimes from occurring."

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