Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal announced today the passage of legislation that establishes the felony crime of aggravated family offense for cases in which an offender is repeatedly convicted of abuse against a family member. The legislation (A.1986B/Rosenthal) would create a Class E felony charge for those convicted of two or more specified crimes committed against a family member within a five-year period. Upon conviction of an aggravated family offense, an offender would be subject to up to four years in prison.
"The high incidence of repeat offenders of domestic violence in New York State is alarming and unacceptable," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "It is important that offenders who repeatedly abuse family members are held accountable. This legislation will ensure that our district attorneys have the tools they need to effectively prosecute cases of repeat abuse, reduce future incidents, and protect victims. I urge the Senate to pass this legislation, so offenders can be charged with the more serious felony-level offense, appropriate for such heinous crimes."
"Domestic violence is a crime of escalation," said Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan). "This bill will break the cycle of abuse before it is allowed to escalate, by taking repeat domestic violence offenders off the streets and putting them in jail where they belong. With this bill, if you are an individual with a history of abuse, you will be charged with a felony, and you will go to prison. The bill will prevent an untold number of needless deaths, and it will send a strong message to victims of domestic violence that they are valued members of our community, that they deserve the strongest protection the law can offer, and that their abusers will be punished to the fullest extent of the law."
"Today's passage of the aggravated domestic violence bill by the Assembly is a critical step forward in our efforts to better protect victims who suffer repeated abuse in their own homes," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. "For too long, batterers have been secure in the knowledge that, unless they cause serious physical injury or death, the odds are stacked in their favor, and not their victim's. I urge the State Senate to join its legislative counterpart and make this a reality before the end of session."
The New York County District Attorney's office detailed examples of repeat offenders that have come before the county. After a long misdemeanor domestic violence history, including violations of orders of protection, a defendant chased his girlfriend down a street and attacked her in front of her three-year old. Another pleaded guilty to assaulting his spouse in front of his children, and shortly after went back to the victim's apartment and hit her in the face. After badly beating his pregnant ex-girlfriend, another defendant was arrested. He continued to call and threaten his ex-girlfriend from jail, and was arrested again.
From 2004 to 2009, in New York County, there were 622 individuals convicted of two or more family offenses. Of those defendants, 36 percent had at least one case with a felony-level assault charge.