Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced passage of a bill designed to help protect domestic violence victims who request emergency assistance.
Current law provides that a person who refuses to relinquish a party telephone line after being told it is needed for an emergency call can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. The law does not, however, address a situation where someone prevents a person attempting to make an emergency call by removing or damaging a telephone or other similar communications device. A review of statewide domestic violence cases reported that, in approximately 12,000 to 15,000 cases each year, the perpetrator ripped the telephone from the wall to prevent the victim from calling for help. The same problem can occur in cases where the victim is elderly or disabled.
"As the author of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act, which dramatically changed the way domestic violence cases are handled in New York, I am acutely aware of the hazards domestic violence victims face daily," said Senator Saland. "This bill puts more teeth into the law and underscores that victims have a right to call for help but perpetrators do not have the right to prevent them from doing so. Thanks to this law, that perpetrator will now be at greater risk."
Senate Bill 2452 adds such conduct to the Penal Law as criminal mischief in the fourth degree, a Class A misdemeanor. The bill has passed the Senate and the Assembly and will now be sent to the Governor for his consideration.