As we have recently published in a previous article, a bill has been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo which includes provisions incorporating new elements to second-degree assault provisions of state Penal Law, §120.05. The statute has been amended to make it a crime of inflicting an injury on process servers “with intent to prevent or obstruct” the performance of their duties. The bill specifically provided that it should be considered assault by a person who seeks to prevent a process server from doing his job by “releasing or failing to control an animal” such as a dog.
This has caused a huge celebration in the process service industry as many injuries have been caused by parties to be served intentionally allowing their dogs to roam free leading to injuries to process servers doing their jobs in New York City. Process servers are constantly injured by dogs that are roaming free and there is no case more illustrative of this than a process server in Texas being killed by several loose dogs. According to the report which you can read here, the owners of where the dogs were free were not present at the time that the process server was killed and possibly would not be charged with a crime.
It is the intentional acts that will be prosecuted under this provision in New York City. According to Larry Yellon, President of the New York State Professional Process Server Association the statutes ““It contains a clause on animals, so if you let a dog loose to attack a process server, it’s a felony.” Process servers must still be aware of their surroundings. Although the assault provision will cover retaliatory behavior it certainly doesn’t look like it will cover the homeowner who just leaves their dog outside for an entire day to menace the entire neighborhood. With that being said, dog bites will be more extensively covered under the additional to the Penal Law. Process servers in New York City, like all other workers deserve to do their job without harm and this is certainly a good step forward.