Assemblyman Ramos Passes Legislation to Protect and Support Victims of Domestic Violence
Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) announced that he helped pass legislation to address domestic violence and provide increased assistance and protection for victims as they pursue justice and put their lives back together.
“In too many cases, victims of domestic violence are faced with unnecessary hurdles as they struggle to recover,” said Ramos. “This legislation provides assistance, protection and resources to help them get their lives back on track.”
In the United States, over 10 million women and men are victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner each year.1 Survivors and their loved ones often deal with trauma long after escaping an abusive situation. The Assembly legislative package seeks to meet the urgent needs of those affected and ensure everyone who seeks help can get it.
Preventing work discrimination
The Assembly legislative package includes a measure to prevent employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence as well as allow these employees reasonable accommodations in the workplace as they address issues, such as counseling or court appearances, related to their abuse (A.1481-A).
“Victims are not defined by the abuse they’ve had to endure, and they absolutely should never be discriminated against by their employer as they fight to overcome their trauma,” said Ramos. “These bills make sure that doesn’t happen, because survivors deserve to move forward with their lives.”
Expanding protections for victims and helping them get justice
The legislative package includes a measure to enact the Domestic Violence Escalation Prevention Act to prevent certain perpetrators of domestic violence from owning a firearm (A.5025). It also includes a bill that requires convicted abusers to surrender firearms, closing a dangerous loophole in state penal law (A.980). Under current law, only those convicted of domestic violence felonies are prohibited from owning guns.
The legislation also includes a bill allowing judges expanded discretion in sentencing defendants who are victims of domestic violence where the abuse was a significant factor in the commission of an offense (A.3110). These victims would be able to seek lesser sentences, alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) programs and apply for resentencing if they are already serving their sentence. A three-part criterion will be used to determine eligibility based on whether the domestic violence was occurring at the time of the offense, if it was a contributing factor or if a sentence under existing law would be excessive.
To help victims break free from their abusers, the legislative package also:
- allows victims of domestic violence to break a telephone, cable or broadband contract, as well as a shared or family plan wireless contract, without incurring cancellation fees (A.1056, A.946);
- codifies requirements for health insurers to provide victims of domestic violence the ability to have claim information and benefits sent to an alternative mailing address (A.4060);
- requires hospitals to establish procedures regarding domestic violence and ongoing training programs for staff, and to designate a hospital staff member to coordinate services for victims (A.4014);
- ensures victims of domestic violence understand their legal rights and access to services during criminal and family court proceedings by simplifying the language in court documents (A.5921);
- allows victims of domestic violence to receive economic and non-economic damages from any or all defendants found liable in civil court (A.1390); and
- increases the statute of limitations in actions for injuries occurring as a result of domestic violence in civil court proceedings from one to two years (A.1516).
Help and support are always available. New York’s toll-free hotline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-942-6906. For additional information, visit the New York State Office of Victim Services’ website at ovs.ny.gov or the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence website at opdv.ny.gov.