Paulin and Hevesi Bills Strengthen Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence

Victims of domestic violence will soon have longer and stronger orders of protection to protect them from their abusers. Legislation passed in the New York State Assembly today expands the maximum duration for protective orders from five to eight years and increases prison time for those who violate these orders. Assembly Members Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) and Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) hailed the passage of their bills as a much needed law enforcement tool to shield those most at risk from being repeat victims of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a heinous crime where abusers often feel it is their right to control their partners by any means necessary. Orders of protection are the only shield some victims have against their abusive partners. By increasing the duration of protective orders, we provide victims more protection from abuse and enhance their ability to take control of their own lives,” Assemblywoman Paulin said.

“These bills send a message to the perpetrators of domestic violence, ‘We will not tolerate repeat domestic violence offenses in New York.’ The state has now increased penalties for repeat offenders who commit the worst domestic violence crimes to ensure that no New Yorker has to live being harassed, threatened, or abused,” Assemblyman Hevesi said.

Paulin’s bill (A.9907-A) increases the duration of final orders of protection issued by criminal courts. In the case of felony offenses, the maximum length of a protective order will increase from five to eight years. In the case of misdemeanor offenses, the maximum duration will increase from three to five years, while other offenses will carry a maximum length of two years, up from one year.

Karen Cheeks-Lomax, Executive Director of My Sisters’ Place, said, “Assemblywoman Paulin’s bill is an extraordinary measure that continues to support victims of domestic violence who seek legal protection from the courts of New York State. It is extremely important that victims, who are able to demonstrate the serious nature of their cases, not be forced to repeatedly return to court to prove new allegations once an order of protection has expired. This bill goes a long way in preserving the rights of those who need protection most.”

Hevesi’s first bill as an Assemblyman (A.10151) increases the maximum penalty for violating an order of protection in New York State from its existing maximum class E-felony to a new maximum class D-felony, which carries with it a penalty of up to seven years in jail. This legislation provides that repeat offenders who commit the most egregious domestic violence offenses, including stalking their victim, threatening their victim with a weapon, or physically abusing their victim will have their penalties enhanced to the new maximum.

Hevesi’s second bill (A.10150) closes a loophole in the existing law by adding aggravated criminal contempt to the list of predicate offenses that raises misdemeanor-level criminal contempt to felony-level criminal contempt.

Two of the three companion bills in the Senate have passed and the third is expected to pass this week.