New York Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has followed through on his promise to introduce legislation aimed at stopping the "Knockout Game," said to be a fad in which young hoodlums pick out victims at random and try to knock them out with a single punch to the head.
He has not been deterred by those nay-sayers who point out that the whole thing may be an urban legend and that, in fact, punching someone in the head (or any other body part) is already a crime.
For example, if Bill A08382A passes, one would commit "gang assault in the first degree" if:
BEING FOURTEEN YEARS OF AGE OR MORE AND WITH THE INTENT TO CAUSE AN UNSUSPECTING PERSON TO BE RENDERED UNCONSCIOUS, AND WHEN AIDED BY OR ENCOURAGED BY TWO OR MORE OTHER PERSONS ACTUALLY PRESENT, HE OR SHE STRIKES SUCH PERSON ON THE HEAD, OR HE OR SHE AIDS OR ENCOURAGES ANOTHER PARTICIPANT TO STRIKE SUCH PERSON ON THE HEAD, CAUSING PHYSICAL INJURY OR SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY TO SUCH PERSON.
But "gang assault in the first degree" already includes intentionally causing serious physical injury to someone when aided by two or more other persons in doing so. N.Y. Penal Law § 120.07. All the new provision would do is make the crime more difficult to prove, because it would require proof of age, that the victim was "unsuspecting," and that he or she got hit in the head; which of course means that prosecutors would never use it.
Some cynics have speculated that Tedisco is just grandstanding, but you know how cynics are. The Times-Union report linked above noted that for a variety of reasons, the bill is not likely to ever reach the floor, let alone pass.
But again, there is already a law that should deter head-punching, to the extent it can be deterred. "You don't need to have an assault provision for every part of the body," said Robert Perry, legislative director of the New York State Civil Liberties Union (although it would be pretty funny if you did). "It's already a crime."