Lalor and Serino Call on Assembly to Pass "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" Bill

East Fishkill, NY - Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I - East Fishkill) and Senator Sue Serino (R,C,I - Hyde Park) are calling on Assembly leadership to pass the "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" Bill, sponsored by Serino and Assemblyman Skartados, before the end of the legislative session. Lalor is a cosponsor of the bill and was the initial sponsor in the Assembly. The legislation would toughen sentencing for multiple homicides that are committed through a single criminal act. Currently, the law does not allow judges the discretion to deliver consecutive sentencing for multiple homicides caused by one act. The bill was passed by the Senate in 2015 and again this year, but continues to stall in the Assembly, due to the Assembly Majority's erroneous claim that the bill would violate the Constitution's double jeopardy clause.

The bill was originally introduced the legislation in 2014 after the legislators were contacted by the families of Shawn and Patricia Wonderly. On August 1, 2012, Ryan Floryan ran a red light at the Eastbound Arterial and Worrall Avenue in the City of Poughkeepsie and slammed into a car carrying Shawn and Patricia Wonderly of the City of Poughkeepsie, killing the couple. In 2013, Floryan pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree manslaughter. He is serving six-and-a-half to thirteen years in prison. Under current law, Dutchess County Court Judge Stephen Greller could not impose a stricter sentence, though he believed a much stricter sentence was appropriate, as the sentencing for the two separate manslaughter charges must run concurrently since they were caused by one act. During court proceedings, Floryan admitted that he was driving at an excessive speed to avoid City of Poughkeepsie police because he had a parole violation.

The Assembly Majority leadership has refused to act on the bill because of a mistaken belief that the bill raises double jeopardy concerns. However, in Missouri v. Hunter, the United State Supreme Court ruled that multiple punishments for the same criminal act do not violate the double jeopardy clause when "a legislature specifically authorizes multiple punishments." The New York State Court of Appeals cited the U.S. Supreme Court when it held in People v. Gonzalez that "[a]s long as the Legislature intended to impose cumulative punishments for a single offense, a court's task of statutory construction is at an end and no constitutional double jeopardy claim is implicated." The courts have specifically ruled that legislation like "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" is constitutional.

"It's shameful that the Assembly has held up this legislation for over two years because of a bogus double jeopardy claim," said Lalor. "The courts couldn't be more clear, this legislation is constitutional. The argument against this bill is transparently false. It's time to pass the bill. The Wonderly and DeSantola families have fought hard to see this bill through. They've fought so that future killers will receive the full punishments they deserve. They deserve better than a mistaken excuse from the Assembly. The bill would give judges the discretion to give criminals tougher sentences when appropriate. It's a law New York needs."

"By failing to pass this bill once again, the Assembly is standing in the way of justice being served," said Senator Serino. "There are certain issues that simply transcend politics and this is one of them. This bill is about ensuring that a murderer doesn't get a lighter sentence because of a technicality. It's about restoring the public’s trust in the law, holding perpetrators accountable, and empowering judges to ensure that justice is truly served when more than one than one life is lost. I urge the Assembly to act on this bill in the final day of session. Letting it languish for yet another year would fly in the face of justice. The Wonderlys and the families across New York deserve better."