First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable or Disabled Person: NY PL 260.34

New York Penal Law 260.34, Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person, or an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree , is a crime enacted to protect some of New York’s most vulnerable residents. While District Attorneys in New York City and the Hudson Valley have always had the ability to charge crimes involving Assault and Rape, Both Penal Law 260.34 and PL 260.32 create a distinct and additional means to prosecute offenders. Whether you acted intentionally or your behavior was criminally reckless, First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person, or an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person provides law enforcement with a proverbial hammer and judges with a weighty gavel to send you to up to seven years in prison.

If the District Attorney can prove you caused a serious physical injury, such as one resulting in a debilitating type disorder or impairment, then there is little doubt you will face this “ugly” felony offense at the time of your arraignment. Make no mistake. If you are accused of this class “D” offense, you and your legal counsel will have a minefield before you from judges potentially setting significant bail to prosecutors relentlessly pursuing incarceration.

Understanding the Elements of NY PL 260.34

If arrested for endangering the class of people statutorily identified in Penal Law 260.34, the local District Attorney, no matter the jurisdiction, must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt. That said, and it should not be ignored, before reaching this legal threshold the burden of arrest and indictment by a Grand Jury is far less.

As a preliminary matter, to be subject to First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person, or an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person you must be a statutorily defined “caregiver.” In substance, a “caregiver” is a person, by an order of a court, who shoulders the responsibility for a vulnerable elderly person or accepts this same responsibility due to a financial or similar agreement. Assuming you, an accused, fall into this category of people, the following actions are a violation of the criminal code:

If you intentionally try to inflict a physical injury, and in fact cause a serious physical injury, you are guilty of this offense. Alternatively, if you behave or act in a reckless manner and as a result cause a serious physical injury, you have violated the criminal law. Keep in mind, even if the type of injury that is ultimately sustained by an alleged victim is not considered “serious” as a matter of law, even far lesser injuries are nonetheless actionable and felonious as a violation Penal Law 260.32, Second Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person, or an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person.

Your Arrest, Your Future Your Defense

No criminal lawyer, even the most experienced, can advise you on the best defense to an arrest for First Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Vulnerable Elderly Person, or an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person, but there are certain factors you must keep in mind when charged with PL 260.34. First, nothing prevents the District Attorney from presenting additional crimes to a Grand Jury. That is, you can find yourself exposed to, for example, a class “C” felony with a maximum sentence of up to fifteen years incarceration, for an Assault related offense. Second, even if charged whit this “D” felony, if you are successful in challenging the nature of the injury from serious physical injury to the lesser physical injury, you will not free yourself from conviction. Instead, you could find yourself left burdened with PL 240.32 and a permanent criminal record.

At bottom, when accused of this or any crime, there are no options other than fighting to mitigate your legal exposure, prove your innocence and protect your future and that of your family. To give yourself the best opportunity to do so there is no substitute for Crotty Saland PC’s experience, advocacy and knowledge. Any other decision will merely compound your already precarious position.

Call the New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan domestic violence prosecutors at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today

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