People should know their rights, and that is especially true of individuals who have domestic violence charges alleged against them. Allegations of domestic violence can result in criminal charges and can also affect decisions in family court. An important part of understanding one’s rights is knowing how crimes in New York are defined. Recently, state legislators proposed changes to New York's domestic violence laws that would make the laws tougher.
New York state legislators recently proposed changes to the state's domestic violence laws that would make it a felony to commit multiple domestic violence offenses. Under the state's current domestic violence laws, individuals who allegedly commit domestic violence and do not cause serious injury or death may only be charged with a misdemeanor. An individual charged with a misdemeanor generally faces a lighter punishment than someone charged with a felony. The proposed change to New York’s domestic violence law would create a felony-level crime of aggravated domestic violence for people convicted of two or more domestic violence offenses within five years.
Under the current regime, individuals who are convicted of multiple domestic violence offenses are treated similarly regardless of whether the conviction was for a misdemeanor or felony offense. Supporters of the proposed law say the change would provide greater aid to alleged victims and families because protection orders in felony cases are issued for a longer period of time than protection orders in misdemeanor cases.
Legislation containing the proposed domestic violence law changes passed in the New York State Assembly, but a vote on the law in the state senate has been postponed.
There have also been other recent proposals to New York's domestic violence laws. Some of those changes include:
- a measure that would ban housing discrimination against domestic violence victims
- a proposed law what would prohibit workplace discrimination against domestic violence victims
- a proposal that would require hospitals to provide effective help to domestic violence victims
Other recently proposed changes would also affect those convicted of domestic violence. The measure would prohibit individuals who have a restraining order against them from obtaining a gun license or possessing a firearm. Individuals convicted of domestic violence would also be barred from purchasing firearms. Current federal law prohibits anyone who has a final Order of Protection issued against them from carrying a firearm.
If you are the target of domestic violence allegations in New York, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to review your rights.