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New Laws Strengthen Crime Victim Protections In The State

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Governor Cuomo yesterday (August 21) signed legislation that strengthens the protections for crime victims in New York and ensures them a way to seek ample compensation for their victimization.

Specifically, the three-fold package does so for victims of domestic violence who have orders of protection violated (S.1868/A.5614), victims of non-physical unlawful surveillance crimes (S.6167/A.7079) and children who witness a crime (S.6353/A.7051).

“New York was one of the first states to provide compensation to crime victims and these new measures will create even greater protections for those who have suffered horrific traumas but who were not physically injured themselves,” Governor Cuomo said. “By expanding the eligibility for victim compensation, we are ensuring even more crime victims are reimbursed for expenses incurred while fighting their abusers and have the assistance needed to support their recovery.


Victim Compensation Against Those who Fail to Obey or Enforce an Order of Protection (S.1868/A.5614)

This legislation re-enforces New York’s zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence by allowing victims of domestic violence to recover monetary and non-monetary damages from any defendant found liable by a court or jury, after a trial on the merits of the action, of failing to obey or enforce an order of protection.

It also gives victims the same access to any liable defendant for full compensation for serious psychological and social harm, not just for medical expenses and lost wages. The bill will take effect 60 days after becoming law.

Senator Jamaal T. Bailey:“Survivors of domestic violence can often struggle with the trauma and large fees that come with the legal process and recovery. My bill ensures that survivors are properly compensated by defendants for the financial burden that comes with getting justice. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this crucial piece of legislation and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for seeing the importance of this bill.”

Assembly Member Helene E. Weinstein: “This bill eliminates a loophole in the law which had domestic violence victims being responsible for some of their own damages, instead of the parties found responsible in court. I thank the governor for – again – standing up for domestic violence victims.”


Victim Compensation for Unlawful Surveillance Crimes (S.6167/A.7079)

This legislation expands the eligibility for victim compensation to crime victims who did not suffer a physical injury, but were victims of the crimes of unlawful surveillance in the first or second degrees and dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image in the first or second degrees.

Under previous law, a victim must have been physically injured during a crime to be eligible for compensation, including loss of earnings; unreimbursed costs of security devices and mental health counseling; costs of residing at or utilizing services provided by shelters for battered spouses and children; and transportation expenses incurred for necessary court appearances in connection with the prosecution of the crime.

The bill will take effect 180 days after becoming law and applies to all claims filed on or after the effective date.

Senator Roxanne J. Persaud: “Victims of unlawful surveillance should not have to be physically injured from an incident to receive financial assistance for the unwanted damages caused; it is not that simple. This kind of crime’s impact on a victim, especially their mental health, career, relationships and sense of security and safety, is often far-reaching and often long-lasting. I commend the Governor on signing this law that will get victims of these unnecessary, awful violations the support that they need and deserve.”

Assembly Member Karen McMahon:“The crime of unlawful surveillance constitutes a grotesque invasion of privacy, the effects of which can be devastating and long-lasting for the victim. This new law will provide victims with the support they need to heal from this emotional trauma. I thank the Governor for signing this legislation, and for the recognition that victims of this crime deserve financial support as they seek justice.”


Victim Compensation for Child Victims Who Witness a Crime (S.6353/ A.7051)

This legislation expands the definition of “child victim” to include victims less than 18 years old, who suffer physical, mental or emotional injury, loss or damage as a result of any violation committed against or witnessed by a child. Under previous law, a child must have been a victim of a crime in order to be eligible for crime-related expenses or assistance through the Office of Victim Services.

It also ensures children who witness a violation committed against somebody else, but are not victims of the crime themselves, are eligible for compensation and assistance.

The bill will take effect 180 days after becoming law and applies to all claims filed on or after the effective date.

Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, “It is extremely traumatic for children to witness crime, especially violent crime in their homes and communities. These experiences negatively impact their safety, their health, their school performance and funnels them into the prison pipeline. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing my bill to provide child witnesses access to resources that can help them process what they experienced and reduce the risk of losing years of opportunity.”

Assembly Member Pat Burke said, “This new law will allow survivors to receive compensation for required court appearances and receive counseling to recover from the traumatic events they have witnessed. No one should ever face financial hardship for the cost of treatment or pursuing justice for a child who has suffered unimaginable trauma


“My mother was an early advocate for victims of domestic violence, and I’m particularly proud that we are leading the nation in our fight against crimes and violence,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Victims of a crime should receive proper compensation and access to the resources they need during their time of need. This legislation will provide assistance to victims of domestic violence and other crimes to ensure all New Yorkers receive the care, support, and justice they deserve.”

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