Updated 06/12/2012 09:01 PM
Harsher penalties for domestic violence crimes
New York State could soon have stricter domestic violence laws. Tuesday, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation that will strengthen many areas of the law including increasing penalties for repeat offenders to protecting the whereabouts of victims. As our Elyse Mickalonis reports, domestic violence groups say the changes could save lives.
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NEW YORK STATE -- Domestic violence is the number one health problem that affects women nationwide according to the U.S. Surgeon General. On Tuesday, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation that could help better prevent that type of violence and protect victims.
"We’re hoping this is now packaged agreement that these things are going to go through and they are going to be more tools in the toolbox for battered women and those who protect them,” said Rebecca Allerton, SOS Shelter, Inc. Executive Director.
If signed by governor Cuomo, this legislation would establish the crime of "Aggravated Family Offense" as a class E felony to ensure repeat offenders are prosecuted as felons, as well as a new class A misdemeanor of "Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree.” But not all of the provisions would take effect immediately. Some will take 60, 90 or 180 days.
"What really needs to happen with our current laws and these new laws is that they’re taken seriously and they’re acted upon quickly. We know delay can cost somebody his or her life,” said Allerton.
Another aspect of the bill is to better-protect the location of victims, something local domestic violence groups say could help save lives.
"That could mean a lot less suffering for someone in those circumstances, but that’s a win-win, less suffering, less injuries, hopefully fewer domestic violence fatalities,” said Allerton.
The legislation could launch a statewide Fatality Review Team to find new ways to reduce intimate partner homicides and, in cases of homicide, ensure offenders does not have control over a victim's remains.
"Another way in some instances of continuing to control that victim, their very body in such a final way and also what torment for the victims’ families. It’s almost common sense that that should not happen,” said Allerton.
Harsher penalties to prevent domestic abuse and homicide.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse you can call the SOS Shelter’s 24 hour helpline at (607) 754-4340. Those outside of the Southern Tier can call 1-800-942-6906.