Sometimes proposed bills can be pushed through more quickly because they happen to be introduced at a time when emotions are high. An anti-crime package passed the State Senate this past week on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombing and another foiled attack planned on a Canadian train which would have eventually arrived in NYC. As fears and concerns over terrorism are heightened, the bill—which includes a few anti-terror law changes—was an easy pass for lawmakers.
“We must do everything we can to support law enforcement and ensure that our laws are as strong as possible to deter terrorists and others who threaten the safety of New Yorkers,” said Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean G. Skelos. “I urge the Assembly to act on these important public safety bills before the end of this session.”
The package of bills included several law changes:
- People convicted of offenses labeled “terrorism” would be required to serve their entire sentence. They would not be eligible for any early release programs. This law would also apply to those convicted of homicide, hate crimes and major drug trafficking (though lawmakers are choosing to focus on the terrorism aspect in light of recent happenings).
- Robberies involving a bomb or explosive would be elevated from a third degree robbery charge to a first or second degree robbery.
- The “Protect Our Children Act” would do several things including increased penalties for those convicted of harming a child, expanding laws and increasing sentences for child abuse and homicide crimes.
- Anyone charged with aggravated assault on a police officer would face a life sentence without parole if they have two prior “serious violent” felonies on their record. Current law caps the sentence for that offense at 20 to 25 years.
- Penalties for manufacturing methamphetamines and possession of the materials to make meth would increase. The most serious offense of manufacturing the drug would carry up to 15 to 25 years in prison.
- Recruiting for gang membership on school grounds would become a felony offense.
Though we are seeing many states soften their criminal laws in an effort to reduce prison populations, cut costs, and invest in sentencing alternatives that actually reduce recidivism and make our communities safer, this entire package is taking existing laws and making them tougher.
Next, the package will go before the state Assembly.
If you are charged with a crime, whether it’s a violent offense or a drug charge, you could be facing serious penalties. Contact our offices today to see how we can help.