ALBANY — As part of their efforts to make the penal law more responsive and realistic, Assemblymen Bob Oaks, Will Barclay and Senator Pattie Ritchie have introduced legislation (Assembly bill 5268 and Senate bill 4022) that would add a new section of law that creates the Class E felony crime of aggravated assault in the third degree.
The impetus for this law was an assault on a female bartender in Oswego Town in July of 2016.
During the course of this incident, two men brutally attacked her.
Despite major injuries that required corrective surgery, the crime did not meet the standards for a felony.
And so, the District Attorney could only prosecute the individuals for a misdemeanor offense, assault in the third degree.
A new penal law section, 120.80, would turn a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge into felony aggravated third-degree assault charge if the defendant is aided by another person who is physically present during the altercation.
Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes approached the Oswego County state legislators because the DA couldn’t even apply felony gang assault to the incident because that law also required the victim to suffer serious physical injury as well as the defendant being aided by two or more people.
“Unfortunately, the present law is simply inadequate and doesn’t hold defendants fully accountable,” said Oakes. “I want to thank our legislators representing Oswego County for listening and taking leadership on this issue so that prosecutors can obtain real justice for victims who are assaulted by multiple attackers.”
The lead sponsor in the state Assembly, Assemblyman Oaks said, “Under the proposed law, aggravated third-degree assault would require only a single accomplice. It would give district attorneys an important tool, allowing cases where two assailants attack a single victim to be prosecuted as a felony. It would hold defendants accountable to the level of the harm they caused.”
Assemblyman Barclay, the bill’s co-sponsor in the Assembly, said, “I am proud to have worked closely with Assemblyman Oaks, Senator Ritchie, and District Attorney Oakes to draft this much needed legislation that will close a loophole in the law and assure dangerous criminals face the consequences of their actions.”
The main sponsor of the legislation in the State Senate, Senator Ritchie said, “It’s critical that those who break the law and viciously attack another person, like in the instance that prompted this legislation, feel the full weight of justice. Through this measure, we can provide District Attorneys with a new tool that will ensure that the punishment matches the crime, as well as help victims begin the healing process.”