State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) announced the New York State Senate is passing legislation during National Crime Victims' Rights Week that would provide further protection to crime victims and child witnesses and would prohibit convicted felons from suing their victims for damages.
"This week (April 10th through 16th) is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, a time to reflect on the people who are injured or killed as a result of violent crime," Senator Farley said. "These survivors, and the families of the victims, are often left with physical or emotional scars that can last a lifetime."
Senator Farley said the New York State Senate has been a leader in developing legislation that addresses the concerns and needs of this State's crime victims. The Senate helped develop crime victim fair treatment standards for State and local agencies involved with the criminal justice system.
The Senate continues to build on its efforts. The Senate passed this week two bills (S.469, S.470) that would allow child witnesses to testify in court via closed-circuit television in criminal assault and endangering the welfare of a child proceedings and would allow vulnerable child witnesses to testify by closed-circuit television in cases of murder and attempted murder.
In 1985, the New York State Legislature adopted a law allowing children to testify via closed-circuit TV in court proceedings involving sexual abuse. The same concern for the emotional welfare of a child who must testify in other traumatic situations, including murder and criminal assault, warrants the extension of the insulation of televised testimony to these cases, Senator Farley said.
The Senate also passed legislation (S.930) that would prohibit a convicted felon from suing his or her victims for civil damages for injuries that were sustained while the crime was being committed.
"We already have a 'Son of Sam' law that gives crime victims the right to seek compensation from criminals who have committed certain specified crimes. The law allows these victims to file civil lawsuits against criminals for crime related damages within three years of the actual discovery of any profits of the crime or funds of a convicted person. The victim can sue against all assets of the criminal," Senator Farley said. "This new legislation would continue to protect victims by changing the law to prohibit a criminal from recovering any damages from a crime victim for injuries received during the act of committing a crime."
These bills have been sent on to the Assembly for consideration.
For more information on the "Son of Sam" law and victims seeking compensation, contact the State Crime Victims Board at (800) 247-8035. Senator Farley also has a free brochure on laws that help crime victims that is available by calling his office at 455-2181 (Albany), 843-2188 (Amsterdam), 762-3733 (Johnstown), or toll-free at (800) 224-5201.