Proposed Bill Would Increase NY Domestic Violence Penalties

Under current state law, you can hit your spouse or partner and only be charged with a misdemeanor—no matter how many times you do it. But if Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, other lawmakers, and domestic violence advocates get their way, you could face a much tougher penalty the second time around.

The bill is a bipartisan effort to stop domestic violence abusers before someone ends up dead. Currently, the legislation is stalled in committee in both houses, according to the NY Post, though it seems to have pretty significant support.

It’s called the aggravated domestic violence bill and it would make a second offense of domestic violence an automatic felony. Currently, the victim must suffer “serious physical injury” for the offense to be elevated to a felony. This law would change that.

If you blacken your girlfriend’s eye one time, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. But if this legislation passes, the second time you punch her, you will be charged with a felony and you will face a mandatory 5 years probation and up to 4 years in prison, a pretty big jump compared with the maximum 1 year in jail that the current misdemeanor charge carries.

Like most crime legislation, this bill also has a story. The family of a police officer who was killed when responding to a domestic violence case wants to see it passed. Officer Alain Schaberger was killed when he was shoved off of a stoop by a four-time domestic violence offender, someone who would have likely been in jail had the aggravated domestic violence law been in effect back then.

It’s understandable that many would like to see this law passed. Oftentimes abusive relationships get progressively more abusive until something stops the abuse in its tracks. That something could be a prison sentence or it could be murder.

Domestic violence do get much sympathy from the courts and from the public in general. When you are accused of a domestic violence offense, however, you aren’t often afforded that same benefit of the doubt. Having someone on your side can make a big difference when it seems like everyone else is judging you.

If you’re accused of assaulting a loved one, contact our attorneys today. We can discuss your options with you and help you determine what the outcome of your case might be. Even if you’ve faced similar charges before, all hope is not lost.


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