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NYS passes bill passed to crack down on domestic violence

By WKTV News

ALBANY, N.Y. - Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi and Senator Joseph Griffo say that the New York State Assembly and Senate have passed a bill that he says enhances protections for domestic violence victims.

According to Griffo and Brindisi, the bill will better protect victims of domestic violence and crack down on repeat offenders.

Griffo's office said the bill represents a three-way agreement among the Senate, Governor Cuomo and the Assembly. It includes several important provisions included in bills that have already passed the Senate this year, such as bail reforms and increased penalties for domestic violence crimes.

"This legislation is designed to keep offenders convicted of low-level domestic violence offenders from harassing their victims, causing them to live in fear," Brindisi said. "harsher penalties including a sentence of up to four years in state prison can be imposed on repeat offenders-as opposed to the current maximum under this scenario of up to one year in a correctional facility."

"New York State treats this violence as a menace to health and safety,"
Griffo said. "While it's taken more changes to criminal and civil law sanctions to address the ongoing threat, doing more to stop the abuse meant improving existing policies to protect victims from injury and death. Today, we moved in that direction."

The legislation establishes the crime of 'Aggravated Family Offense' as a Class E Felony, which ensures that defendants with a history of domestic violence who are repeatedly convicted of misdemeanor offenses can be prosecuted as felons.

This legislation also establishes a new Class A Misdemeanor of 'Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree' when a person causes physical injury to another person or to a family or household member of the person. The legislation also allows courts to consider prior violations of an order of protection when determining the defendant's bail.

Additionally, the multi-faceted legislation will:

*require the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) to establish a domestic violence fatality review team to examine factors involved in domestic violence deaths or near-deaths

*strengthen and broaden the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), which allows victims attempting to escape from actual or threatened domestic violence to establish new mailing address with the New York Secretary of State in order to prevent abusers from finding them

*permit domestic violence victims to get information from their health insurance companies by alternative means or at alternative locations, and would prohibit insurers from publicly disclosing the address, phone number, or other information without the direct consent of the policyholder

*prohibit a person who is the subject of an order of protection associated with a deceased person, or who has been charged with causing the death of the deceased person, from having control of the disposition of the deceased's remains.

YWCA Mohawk Valley Executive Director Natalie L. Brown said, "We applaud Assemblyman Brindisi and the New York State Assembly for recognizing the serious nature of domestic violence crimes and for giving law enforcement and the courts the tools necessary to punish abusers."

YWCA Mohawk Valley Director of Non-Residential Crisis Services Rosemary Vennero said, "We've been fighting for this type of legislation for years. Domestic Violence advocates are constantly striving for victim safety, offender accountability, and general deterrence. We want to create a community that will send the message to perpetrators, 'if you're an abuser, don't bother living here!' This legislation brings us one step closer to zero tolerance of domestic violence."

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