Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D – New City) announced that the Assembly has passed legislation that he supported as part of a package of bills that would protect and assist victims of domestic violence. Over 335,000 domestic violence and sexual assault hotline calls were received in New York State in 2009 and of those reported crimes the Domestic Violence Courts in New York State handled 35,244 cases in 2009i .
“Domestic violence crimes are a devastating occurrence for millions of victims,” said Zebrowski. “It is critical that victims get the services they need to ensure their safety and empower them with the resources they need in order to begin the process of moving forward.”
This passed legislation will:
- update the definition of domestic violence in the social services law to include conduct that constitutes a family offense, including the crimes of stalking, strangulation and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation (A.627);
- require criminal or family court judges to inquire about the defendant’s or respondent’s ownership or possession of a firearm when orders of protection are sought (A.2494-B);
- expose individuals or parties who fail to obey or enforce an order of protection to joint liability for all non-economic damages sought by a claimant, after a fact-finding by a judge or jury (A.2350);
- prohibit employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence committed by a member of the same family or household; the legislation also includes a right for the domestic violence victim to a reasonable accommodation from the employer to deal with legal and medical issues relating to the domestic incident (A.2348-A);
- prohibit housing discrimination against domestic violence victims by forbidding landlords and sellers of property from denying an individual the right to purchase, rent, lease or inhabit housing because of involvement in a domestic dispute (A.3448-A); and
- require essential terms of orders of protection issued in family or criminal court to be translated into the appropriate language of the individuals, allowing non-English speaking individuals and those with a hearing impairment the opportunity to better understand what was reported in court (A.6113).
“The measures included in the Assembly’s package of bills strengthen the laws that are already on the books and adds new provisions that protect victims and their families,” Zebrowski said. It is imperative that we do all we can to help victims of domestic violence and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to also, pass these important measures.