Thursday, March 17, 2016

NY Senate Passes Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

The New York State Senate Wednesday passed legislation to further protect victims of domestic violence. The bill (S3087), sponsored by Senator Cathy Young (R-C-I, Olean), would provide stronger protections for vulnerable domestic violence victims by allowing them to testify via closed-circuit television in criminal proceedings. 
Senator Young said, “Tragically, only about 70 percent of nonfatal domestic violence incidents are reported to law enforcement. Many women feel trapped by their abusers, and some witnesses may be unable to attend court proceedings in person without risking their lives. Domestic violence victims have already been through enough and using closed circuit television so that a victim or another witness can safely confront an attacker will help more victims become survivors and lead to more convictions.”
Current law only allows children who are considered vulnerable by a judge to testify via closed-circuit television. This legislation would also give domestic violence victims the option of testifying outside of the physical presence of their abusers to help facilitate cooperation with prosecutions. 
This bill builds upon other measures the Senate has passed to protect domestic violence victims, including a new law (S6) also sponsored by Senator Young that was passed last year as part of the Senate's Women's Equality Agenda. The law creates a pilot program to allow domestic violence victims to obtain orders of protection through electronic means rather than having to appear in person. It also requires the Office of Court Administration to review and update its policies and services for all crime victims in the courts in order to ensure that their needs are being met and that all victims are truly protected.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.