Senate Passes Bill to Clarify Aggravated Harassment Law

June 20, 2014

The New York State Senate passed legislation (S7869) today, sponsored by Senator Michael Nozzolio (R-C, Fayette) that would clarify a state law related to the crime of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, that was declared unconstitutional by the state Court of Appeals last year.  

The bill addresses concerns cited by the Court and restores Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, which was a charge used thousands of times in cases of domestic violence.  The Court ruled the law was vague and too broad.  

“We are a State and Nation of laws and we must make it clear that individuals who threaten and intimidate others will pay a price for their actions,” Senator Nozzolio said. “This measure addresses a serious hole in the penal law, will provide an important tool in domestic violence prosecutions, and will protect the safety of our citizens.”

This bill approved by the Senate will criminalize harassing communications that threaten to cause physical harm to a victim or the victim’s property where a defendant knows or should know that the communication will cause the victim to fear such harm.

“The Senate has always made it a priority to enact laws to prevent domestic violence, protect victims from further abuse, and punish offenders,” Senator Nozzolio said.  “This measure will help achieve these goals by restoring an important legal tool for law enforcement in its fight against domestic violence.”

There are approximately 7,600 open matters statewide where this law is the most serious charge. In addition, violation of this law is often cited for issuing an order of protection by a court to protect domestic violence victims.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.