News Round-up February 6th, 2015

E-Signatures Accepted for Domestic Violence Complaints:

  • In People v. Gustalvo Perez Sanchez, the Criminal Court of Queens County granted the prosecution’s motion to convert the misdemeanor complaint into an information. The defendant was charged with Assault in the Third Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Harassment in the Second Degree after an incident between him and his wife at their residence. Following the decision, on Wednesday January 28, 2015, the Queens County District Attorney released a statement confirming that the court’s ruling allows victims of domestic violence to sign documents electronically.
  • This decision allows victims of domestic violence to avoid trips down to the courthouse while still in fear of their abusers, and expedites the complainant’s signature needed to proceed with the case before the abuser gets the opportunity to interfere and dissuade the victim.
  • The defendant objected to the motion stating that specific legislation was required to allow for electronic signatures. In her opinion rejecting this objection, Judge Deborah Stevens Modica said: “To assert that the everyday use of technology in business transactions, government filings, test taking, school transactions, etc. cannot be applied to court documents without specific legislative authorization fails to recognize that such usage is simply no longer novel.”

 

“Yes Means Yes” and Private Institutions:

  • Governor Cuomo announced that he is proposing legislation to expand the “yes means yes” standard currently governing sexual assaults on state college campuses. This standard requires affirmative consent from both parties before sexual encounters; affirmative consent cannot be given if one party is intoxicated, asleep, or unconscious.
  • With this new legislation, the law would extend beyond state colleges and universities to include private institutions. This would create one, uniform standard for handling all campus sexual assaults, and create more equalized protection for the victims regardless of which college they attend.
  • Cuomo has proposed allowing for granting students immunity on other charges, such as drug related offenses, if they have information about a sexual assault on campus. Staff at the colleges and universities will receive training associated with combating sexual assaults.
  • For more information about California’s “yes means yes” law passed on September 28, 2014, Please click here.

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