Senate Passes Domestic Violence Package

Thomas P. Morahan

April 24, 2007

In observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahanjoined by members of the New York State Senate Majority Conference, today passed a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence.

The Senate passed two bills today (S.2034) and (S.1755), respectively, to strengthen existing law and establish the crime of endangering the welfare of a child when an act of domestic violence is committed in the presence of a child.

"Children in homes where domestic violence occurs face a greater risk that their emotional, physical and mental development will be harmed. This legislation is intended to prevent young lives from being damaged," said Morahan, who chairs the Senate's Mental Health Committee.

Studies indicate that children who witness domestic violence exhibit more aggressive behavior, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and low cognitive, verbal and motor skills.

The Senate also passed a bill (S.3646) to authorize family courts to issue orders of protection for witnesses called to testify in family court. Very often witnesses are fearful of testifying because it may put them in danger. Providing an order of protection will help ensure the safety of witnesses.

In addition, the Senate passed legislation (S.894) to allow courts to issue orders of protection for a period of time beyond that currently authorized or a permanent order of protection. Other states have enacted similar provisions to provide increased and continued protection for both domestic violence and stalking victims.

The bills were sent to the Assembly.

The Senate today also announced the introduction of legislation that would:

require GPS monitoring on persons who have an order of protection issued against them (S.4796);

require a court, when issuing a temporary order of protection, to suspend a firearm license, and order the immediate surrender of all firearms if the individual has been previously convicted of violating an order of protection by inflicting physical injury upon someone (S.4066);

permit the use of closed-circuit television for the victims of alleged domestic violence to testify in court (S.4875);

allow electronic filing of orders of protection (S.4704);

Earlier in the legislative session, the Senate passed the following bills related to the protection of victims of domestic violence that would:

include stalking by technological means -- including illegal wiretapping, cell phones, caller ID, the Internet, GPS, and any other type of tracking device -- as an element of the current crimes of stalking in the first, second, and third degrees (S.884);

add victims of domestic violence to the list of protected classes who shall not be discriminated against by an employer in terms of hiring or employment practices (S.3052).

To date, there has been no action in the State Assembly on either of these two bills.