Joe Robach of Rochester and the NYS Senate passed legislation recently that gives judges the ability to consider well-established risk factors in determining bail or recognizance in domestic violence cases so that a victim and their family can be further protected from an assailant.
The bill, (S.1414A), would allow the history of violence or threats of violence, prior orders of protection, and the accused’s access to guns to be considered by a judge, potentially affecting their release conditions and sparing many victims and their children additional harm or even death.
New York State has been a leader in addressing domestic violence by passing many progressive laws over the past few decades. However, New York’s bail provisions have not been updated to take into account the unique nature of domestic violence offenses. As a result, perpetrators of domestic violence offenses are often set free on low or no bail, providing an opportunity to stalk, harm and sometimes kill their victims. As an example, in July 2010, a tragic incident occurred in Dutchess County when the perpetrator killed his wife before turning the gun on himself. This incident occurred only days after his release on bail, following one month in jail stemming from an incident of domestic violence. This and many other cases demonstrate that it is essential that the judge determining recognizance or bail consider factors that indicate a risk of harm to the victim-witness.
Joe Robach and the Senate know the high rate of recidivism in domestic violence cases. This important legislation requires judges to consider specific factors including prior acts of violence or threats of violence, prior orders of protection, prior arrests or convictions for offenses against family or household members, prior violations of orders of protection, and access to firearms or a history of firearm use.
The bill is now pending in the Assembly. For anyone who would like more information, please contact Joe Robach’s office.