Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Vulnerable adult attack penalty

Published (3/18/2010)
By Mike Cook
Share on: 

When a father in a wheelchair tried to enforce some rules with his teenage daughter, she became enraged, pushed him out of his wheelchair and assaulted him.

“Because she was not a caregiver, because she was actually 16 years old, we were only able to charge her with a misdemeanor,” said St. Paul Police Sgt. Ann Bebeau.

Sponsored by Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center), HF3333 would make “whoever assaults and inflicts demonstrable bodily harm on a vulnerable adult” guilty of a gross misdemeanor. That charge can now be made only if the offender is the vulnerable adult’s caregiver.

Approved March 11 by the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee, the bill was sent to the House Finance Committee with a recommended referral to the House Public Safety Finance Division. A companion, SF3195, sponsored by Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“When someone is vulnerable and in a wheelchair or is not able to defend themselves it is particularly egregious,” Bebeau said. “We have a responsibility to bring laws into state where we can help people that are vulnerable and not able to fight back.”

Rep. Paul Kohls (R-Victoria) expressed concern that another group of people might be singled out for protection.

“If I’m assaulted, and I can show demonstrable bodily harm, that’s not the same level of offense of somebody who may be confined to a wheelchair, may be classified as a vulnerable adult,” he said. “We may want to provide greater protection for those individuals — I understand that — but I just think we should be cognizant of that as we move forward.”

The bill was proffered by a vulnerable adult justice project at William Mitchell College of Law.

“This is a group of folks that have been working together to attempt to bring vulnerable adults into the statutes,” Hilstrom said. “I agreed to carry their bill, but I think you do bring up a valid point.”

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Turn your key and breathe
House approves ignition interlock bill that would let DWI offenders drive sooner
(view full story) Published 4/29/2010

Minnesota Index: Crime and punishment
Figures and statistics on crime in Minnesota.
(view full story) Published 3/18/2010

Red River Basin: ‘Here we go again’
Flood-prone communities look to keep their heads above water
(view full story) Published 3/4/2010

At Issue: Courts and corrections backing
Public safety finance bill awaits gubernatorial action
(view full story) Published 5/15/2009

At Issue: Corrections, courts funding concerns
Omnibus public safety finance bill gets mixed reaction from House
(view full story) Published 5/1/2009

At Issue: Sex offenders, courts and corrections
Omnibus public safety policy bill headed to conference committee
(view full story) Published 4/24/2009

At Issue: Helping to find missing adults
House vote expected soon on ‘Brandon’s Law’
(view full story) Published 4/17/2009

Minnesota Index: Keeping Minnesotans safe
Figures and statistics on the state patrol and fire marshals in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 3/20/2009

Minnesota Index: See you in court
Figures and statistics on Minnesota's court system
(view full story) Published 2/27/2009

Minnesota Index: 'The Graybar Hotel'
Figures and statistics on Minnesota's prison population
(view full story) Published 1/16/2009