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State Senate Passes Bill to Make Desecrating Veteran’s Graves a Felony

Bath National Cemetery
Bath National Cemetery
Bath National Cemetery

The New York State Senate has passed a bill that makes desecration of veteran grave sites a felony.

The bill defines the new crime - desecration of veteran cemetery plots and markers - and makes the crime a Class E felony.

State Senator Ted O'Brien (D-Irondequoit) sponsored the bill in the State Senate. The bill now goes to the State Assembly, where it is sponsored by Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Irondequoit).

According to O’Brien:

“It is a terrible act when any individual’s final resting place is tampered with, but it is especially reprehensible when that grave belongs to someone who is a veteran of our country’s military.”

“Those who have served our country with honor deserve our eternal respect. One way to maintain that respect is by ensuring that criminals who violate the sanctity of veterans’ final resting places are subject to very serious penalties.”

Here is the text of the bill passed by the State Senate.

BILL NUMBER:S283

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to cemetery desecration and cemetery desecration of a veteran

PURPOSE: This bill creates a new crime for cemetery desecration of a veteran cemetery plot, grave or burial place.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Sections 1 & 2: Makes technical changes to penal law sections 145.22 and 145.23 due to the creation of a new crime of desecration of a veteran cemetery plot, grave or burial place.

Section 3: Amends penal law section 145.27 to include cemetery desecration of a veteran as a predicate offense for Aggravated Cemetery Desecration in the first degree.

Section 4: Adds two penal law sections, 145.28 and 145.29. Section 145.28 is added to define the term "veteran" for the purposes of section 145.29. Section 145.29 establishes the crime of cemetery desecration of a veteran. Cemetery desecration of a veteran is a class E felony.

Section 5: Amends penal law section 60.29 to include conforming changes that make reference to the new crime created in section one of this act.

Section 6: Amends penal law sections 65.10 to allow community service to be provided for desecrated cemeteries as a condition for probation or conditional release.

Section 7: Establishes the effective date of this act.

EXISTING LAW: There is presently no law that specifically protects veteran grave sites.

JUSTIFICATION: This legislation addresses a problem that was first brought to the bill sponsor's attention by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Department of New York.

This bill helps prevent the desecration of veteran grave sites. It increased the penalty for the desecration of such grave sites that commemorate the life and death of veterans.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: See S.3784-B of 2003/2004, Passed the State Senate in 2004. S.4836 of 2007/2008, Passed Senate S.768 of 2009/2010, Referred to Codes S.1728 of 2011/2012, Passed Senate

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: On the 180th day after it shall have become law.