New York Proposes Law to Help Preserve Elderly Victim’s Testimony

Decision definitionThe New York State Senate has passed a bill that will make it possible for testimony given by elderly witness to be preserved and used in criminal cases against their abusers, even if the elderly person has passed away or become incapacitated.

WHEC reported in its news article, "Senate passes bill to better protect senior citizens from abuse," that the legislation would allow elderly witnesses who are age 75 or older to be examined conditionally to preserve their testimony for future use.

"We have a responsibility to protect our senior citizens," Gallivan said. "Elder abuse, whether physical, psychological or financial, is on the rise as our senior population continues to grow. This legislation helps ensure those who abuse and exploit the elderly are held accountable and do not go unpunished."

The bill proposes to allow recorded testimony from elderly witnesses to be preserved and used as evidence at a later date in a criminal proceeding. Right now, under state law, victims can only be examined conditionally—that is, recording their testimony before a trial starts—if they are suffering from a demonstrable physical illness or are incapacitated.

In many instances, elderly victims who appear healthy at the start of an investigation die prior to the start of the trial.

In a prosecution from a few years back, a man in his 90's, who was supposedly very healthy for his age, was the victim of theft by his long-time home aide. He died after the aide's arrest but before the case went to a grand jury. The case was prosecuted, but would have been an easier conviction with the testimony. The aide confessed.

"Offenders should not be able to game the system by delaying legal proceedings in the hope that an elderly witness will pass away before trial," Gallivan said.

The proposed law has been sent to the New York State Assembly for consideration.

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Reference: WHEC (March 31, 2016) "Senate passes bill to better protect senior citizens from abuse"


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