Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced the passage of legislation creating and defining new crimes of strangulation in the first and second degree and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation (A.10161-A/Lentol).
Under current law, there is no crime that expressly addresses the intentional obstruction of a victim's circulation, which has led to cases in which courts determined that such an act did not meet the definition of assault. To address this concern, legislation passed today would create the specific crimes of strangulation in the first degree, a class C violent felony offense, and in the second degree, a class D violent felony offense. Further, intentionally obstructing someone's breathing or blood circulation would be considered a class A misdemeanor. The legislation also allows victims of any of these new crimes, who are often also victims of domestic violence, to seek an order of protection in Family Court.
"This is a potentially lethal crime that warrants greater prosecution and protection for victims" said Silver (D-Manhattan). "We need to ensure that victims of domestic violence and other individuals who suffer from this appalling act will see their abusers brought to justice."
"Strangulation is one of the most dangerous and abusive acts used by perpetrators of domestic violence," said Lentol (D-Brooklyn). "Up until this point, this conduct was often difficult to prosecute under New York's assault laws. With the enactment of this legislation, strangulation in New York can be prosecuted more effectively."