Today’s news:

New statute makes felonies of muggings against elderly

A bill drawn up in the wake of the 2007 assaults and muggings of two elderly Queens women, Rose Morat and Solange Elizee, was signed into law Friday by Gov. David Paterson and imposed stiffer penalties for attacking seniors.

The new "Granny's Law," inspired in part by the February 2007 attacks on Morat, 101, of Jamaica Estates, and Elizee, 85, of Jamaica, upgrades from a misdemeanor to a felony the penalty for assaulting a person 65 years or older if the assailant is 10 years younger than the victim. The penalty for a felony assault is as much as seven years in prison.

Under the old law, an intentional assault that caused physical injury to the victim was a third-degree assault, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Granny's Law increases the severity of the crime to second-degree assault a felony if certain aggravating factors are present.

Such factors include intentionally causing serious physical injury, intentionally causing physical injury with a deadly weapon or causing injury to particular types of victims police or peace officers, students or teachers who are more likely to be targeted by criminals.

"It is unconscionable that anyone would assault a senior citizen, but we continue to witness these disturbing acts of violence," Paterson said. "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."

The bill received broad support in both houses of the state Legislature, including from state Sens. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

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