Vulnerable Minnesotans protection bill now law

Gov. Mark Dayton has signed legislation that classifies the intentional neglect of vulnerable adults or children as a felony crime rather than a misdemeanor.

The DFL governor and the Republican sponsors of the bill gathered Wednesday for a brief signing ceremony. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who also attended the event, said the change took more than 17 years to accomplish. Freeman said the legislation corrects what he termed a "statutory inequity."

"Misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor penalties are inadequate," Freeman said. "We now have a five-year felony for substantial bodily harm. We now have a 10-year felony for great bodily harm, and for those five or six cases a year, justice demands that people do real time."

The original measure was aimed specifically at the caregivers of vulnerable adults. But lawmakers added a provision this session to also cover the intentional mistreatment of children.

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