By Jonathan Sperling
With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ensured crime victims in New York are better protected from their attackers.
Cuomo signed several pieces of legislation Wednesday, including a law that allows victims of domestic violence to seek damages from perpetrators who violate orders of protection, a law that expands the eligibility for compensation to victims of unlawful surveillance crimes and another that broadens the definition of a “child victim.”
In signing the legislation, Cuomo noted that New York was one of the first states to provide crime victim compensation, adding in a statement that the state is “ensuring even more crime victims are reimbursed for expenses incurred while fighting their abusers and have the assistance needed to support their recovery."
Bills S.1868/A.5614 allows victims of domestic violence to recover both monetary and non-monetary damages from any defendant found to be failing to obey or enforce an order of protection.
The legislation also gives victims access to full compensation for serious psychological and social harm — not just for medical expenses and lost wages. The law will take effect in 60 days.
Bills S.6167/A.7079 expands the eligibility for victim compensation to victims of unlawful surveillance in the first or second degrees and dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image in the first or second degrees, even if the victim was not physically injured. Previous law stipulated that a victim must have been physically injured during a crime to be eligible for compensation.
The bill will take effect 180 days after becoming law and applies to all claims filed on or after the effective date. Queens Assemblymember Michele Titus was one of the co-sponsors of the Assembly’s version of the bill.
Bills S.6353/ A.7051 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.
Previous versions of the law stipulated that 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. The bill will take effect 180 days after becoming law and applies to all claims filed on or after the effective date.
Titus and State Sen. John. Liu co-sponsored the bill.