New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a robust package of legislation that will improve the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence. At the same time, the new laws provide survivors with enhanced protections so they can more safely sever ties with their abusers.
The bill package addresses the recidivist nature of domestic violence by holding serial offenders more accountable for their behavior. The law calls for new considerations when determining bail and creates a state-level Fatality Review Team to find new ways to prevent intimate partner homicides.
“By strengthening the domestic violence laws, New York is leading the way in protecting victims and prosecuting offenders while demonstrating to the nation that we will not tolerate violence against our families,” said Cuomo. “This new law will make it a felony crime for criminals who repeatedly harm their families and ensure that they can are stopped. I thank Majority Leader [Dean] Skelos, Speaker [Sheldon] Silver and the bill sponsors for working with me to make our state safer for all New Yorkers.”
Domestic violence has been identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as the number-one health problem affecting American women, and it floods the justice system of New York State as well as the courts of every other state in the nation. Research shows that domestic violence offenders most often recidivate against the same victims (70-80 percent), and that those in an intimate relationship are more likely to re-offend than those who commit crimes in other family relationships. In addition, offenders released without bail had a higher pre-trial recidivism rate than those released on bail, as did those charged with violating an order of protection.
“This legislation addresses one of the underlying problems of domestic violence – the ability of offenders to abuse their victims again and again without serious consequences. And too often, we see domestic violence cases turn deadly,” said Manhattan District Attorney and President of the New York District Attorneys Association of the State of New York Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “This new law, in part, creates a new class E felony, Aggravated Family Offense, for repeat abusers, and will help victims escape violence and return to a place of safety. The Aggravated Family Offense bill was the result of a partnership that my office undertook with the Governor, the Senate, the Assembly, and domestic violence advocates throughout the state. I thank them for their strong support and tireless efforts.”