New Laws Protecting Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Victims

By: Mallory McGee

Last month, Governor Cuomo signed into law two important provisions protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Cuomo believes that the laws will close a “potentially dangerous loophole and will help ensure that victims receive the protections that they deserve.”

The first law,  Chapter 240 of 2015, applies to defendants convicted of felony sexual assault. In these instances, the new law provides a ten year order of protection. This allows for the victims to receive protection through the term of probation, which is maxed at ten years. If the charge was a misdemeanor, then a mandatory six year order of protection is ordered, which is the maximum period of probation allowed. Previously, according to Criminal Procedure Law §530.12, a domestic violence victim’s order of protection would often expire before the end of the probation period. The law also amends Criminal Procedure Law §530.13 which covers crime victims not in family offenses. This amendment provides the same protections under §530.12. This law goes into effect 30 days from the signing by Cuomo.

The second law,  Chapter 241 of 2015, makes it easier for victims of domestic violence and other crimes who wish to change their name to obtain waivers for the requirement to publish any name changes in a newspaper. The amended Civil Rights Law §64-a now gives courts broad discretion to determine whether a person’s safety would be at risk by publishing a victim’s name change. This discretion is not limited to direct threats against the personal safety of the victim. This law went into effect immediately following Cuomo’s signature.

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