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A woman convicted of punching an elderly Walmart greeter had her sentence reduced on Monday, after a court rejected a longer sentence imposed under New York's "Granny Law."
Jacquetta Simmons, who was 27 at the time of the attack in 2011, was convicted of punching a 70-year-old Walmart greeter in the face, for which she was originally sentenced to five years in prison, reports Buffalo's WIVB-TV. A judge imposed a new sentence for Simmons to spend one year in jail.
Did the "Granny Law" fail in Simmons' case?
Elder Assault Sentence Too Harsh: Appellate Court
Judge Robert C. Noonan presided over Jacquetta Simmons' resentencing on Monday, after a higher court threw out his previous sentence of five years in prison, reports The Batavian.
The original sentence had been based on New York's "Granny Law," which was enacted in 2008 and made the assault of a person over the age of 65 (when the assailant is at least 10 years younger) a second-degree assault. The difference between this and less serious assaults is huge in the Empire State -- second degree assault is a felony which carries a two- to seven-year prison sentence.
That's why Judge Noonan had originally slapped Simmons with a five-year prison sentence for assaulting a 70-year-old woman. He still believed this was the appropriate sentence, but his hands were tied by the sentence modification of the appellate court, reports The Batavian.
The appellate court felt Simmons' sentence was too harsh; her attorneys agreed that the five-year sentence was "almost unheard of" for a first-time offender, reports Batavia's WBTA radio.
Ways to Get a Sentence Reduced
While Simmons had her sentence reduced on appeal, many defendants are able to swing a lesser sentence by cooperating with prosecutors and agreeing to a plea bargain.
These deals typically involve a defendant pleading guilty or no-contest to an offense in exchange for a small fraction of the recommended punishment for that offense. Although some plea bargains may cause defendants trouble in future job interviews, they generally are better than facing the typical sentencing for a crime.
Inmates can also have their sentences reduced for good behavior behind bars -- often called "good time credits." In New York, inmates can have up to one-third of their sentences reduced with good behavior.
That means if Simmons behaves herself while incarcerated and receives credit for good behavior, she can potentially expect to spend only eight months of her year-long sentence in jail.