May introduces bill to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence

New legislation removes public intent standard for disorderly conduct

State Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Madison, Oneida), Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources and Chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, has introduced new legislation to ensure that New York’s domestic violence laws adequately protect its victims (S6786).

A 2013 Appellate Court decision (Cassie v. Cassie, 969 N.Y.S. 2d 537 (Second Dept.)) weakened the state’s law by requiring that such acts occur with intent to cause “public” inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. Such a standard is rarely met in cases of domestic violence, as they usually occur in the home and out of public view.

“The statistics on domestic violence in our state and across the country are not just troubling, they are terrifying,” said Senator May. “In the single minute it takes to read this new legislation another 20 people will suffer at the hands of an intimate partner (1). As Domestic Violence Awareness Month nears its end, I am moving forward with this new bill to clarify and strengthen the state’s Family Offense Laws so that victims can get the Orders of Protection from their abusers that they desperately need.”

For nearly seven years, victims have been suffering under the ruling from the Cassie case, which creates an unrealistic and nearly impossible burden on the victim to prove that their abuser’s disorderly conduct occurred with intent to cause “public” annoyance.

This case has been cited over 50 times in court decisions denying Orders of Protection, and there is no telling how many more victims have hesitated to come forward because of the chilling effect of the Cassie decision.

“With Syracuse near the top of the list of the cities and towns with the highest number of domestic violence victims in Central New York, I feel especially compelled to take action to provide hope to victims of domestic violence in my district,” said May.

The Senator urges victims and their loved ones to seek help by calling the NYS Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

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