Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
Law makers in Albany have come to an agreement on a series of bills aimed at combating domestic violence, including one that cracks down on repeat offenders.
Currently, many domestic violence offenses get charged as misdemeanors. Under the new legislation repeat offenders will face Class E felony charges, which carry a maximum sentence of up to 4 years in prison.
Senator Daniel Squadron sponsored the legislation in honor of an NYPD officer who was murdered last year — responding to a call — by a man with a history of domestic violence related offenses. “Today domestic violence abusers are able to rack up offenses without any promise of protection for their victims,” Squadron said.
Under that bill, a person charged with two offenses within a five year period would be charged with a felony.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance supported the legislation and has said it would give judges the ability to order longer periods of probation and approve lengthier orders of protection.
The other bills also includes a provision that would require judges to consider a history of restraining order violations or access to a gun when setting bail for a domestic violence offender. And in domestic violence cases that end in murder, the accused will no longer have control over funeral and burial arrangements.
One bill would also help keep secret the location of domestic violence victims by allowing them to create substitute mailing addresses maintained by the Department of State. The government entity would then forward all mail to the victim’s actual address.
The package of bills is expected to be passed by the Legislature before the end of session on June 21, and is expected to go into effect by the end of the year.