On Tuesday, Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Mid-Hudson) announced that the Assembly passed legislation she co-sponsored that would strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence and crack down on repeat offenders (A.10624). The legislation has also passed the State Senate and will be delivered to Governor Cuomo.

 The legislation creates a class E felony for the crime of “Aggravated Family Offense,” ensuring that defendants with a previous history of domestic violence are prosecuted as felons. In addition, the legislation makes “Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree” a class A misdemeanor for causing physical injury to another person or to a family member of the person and also allows courts to consider prior violations of an order of protection when determining the defendant’s bail.

 “Our region has shared in the heartbreak of domestic violence too many times,” Assemblymember Barrett said. “These crimes affect everyone involved, often leaving a lifetime of emotional – and sometimes physical – scars that cannot be erased. We have an obligation to ensure that these repeat offenders are held to the strictest punishments.”

 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 and 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 addresses with the secretary of state in order to prevent abusers from finding them;

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

·         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.

 “Ensuring harsher penalties for repeat offenders at the same time as providing victims of domestic violence with the protections they deserve will go a long way in cracking down on domestic violence and giving victims the peace of mind they need,” Assemblymember Barrett said. “Thanks to this legislation, the message will be clear: We will not tolerate domestic violence in New York.”