Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal Monday to increase the state’s penalty on repeat domestic abusers.
Under the proposal, those found guilty of repeatedly committing misdemeanor domestic violence crimes would be charged with a new, class E felony of aggravated family offense. The maximum penalty would be 16 months to four years in state prison.
The bill was agreed to by Cuomo; Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County; and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan. It’s expected to be voted on before the state’s legislative session is scheduled to end on June 21.
“With domestic violence remaining a major problem here in New York and across the nation, our state must continue to lead in strengthening laws to better protect victims and crack down on offenders who cause harm to their families,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Among other provisions, the bill would also create a new misdemeanor charge of second-degree aggravated harassment, when someone causes physical injury to a family or household member with “intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle praised the proposal.
“This was a collaborative effort and I genuinely believe with the enactment of this legislation, we are making our state a safer place for many who live in fear,” said Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie.
Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, said the state “has taken a positive step in combating this societal epidemic.”
If the bill is passed by the Legislature, judges would be required to consider “certain risk factors” when determining bail for a domestic violence defendant. Those include whether the person has previously violated a restraining order or if he or she has access to guns.
Also, a person charged with murder or manslaughter of a family member would not have the right to the victim’s remains under the bill. Lawmakers had pushed for the change after an accused murderer in Tonawanda, Erie County, for months had refused to hand over his wife’s remains for a funeral in 2009.