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Governor Cuomo Announces Agreement With Legislative Leaders on Bill Clarifying Laws Against Harassment

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement with legislative leaders to advance a bill that clarifies the state’s laws against harassment. In the 2013 case of People v. Golb.

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Albany, NY - June 17, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement with legislative leaders to advance a bill that clarifies the state’s laws against harassment. In the 2013 case of People v. Golb, the Court of Appeals found that part of the state’s Penal Law covering Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree was vague and overbroad and therefore unconstitutional. This bill cures that constitutional defect and restores Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, which was utilized more than 7,600 times in the past year alone, frequently by victims of domestic violence.

“Harassment in any form will not be tolerated in New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bill strengthens our laws against aggravated harassment, and will help ensure that all victims receive the protection they need. I thank the leaders of the legislature for coming together to advance this important bill, which will make victims safer across the state.”

Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Jeffrey D. Klein said, "This bill ensures thousands of victims will be afforded the vital protections they deserve. By fortifying our aggravated harassment laws we make life safer for New Yorkers who need it most.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “With more than 400,000 domestic abuse incidents reported in New York each year, it is essential that we enact laws to provide law enforcement with the tools to effectively combat domestic violence and protect victims from the cycle of abuse.  The aggravated harassment statute is an important tool in our fight against domestic violence and this legislation will fill a gap left in the law after the Court of Appeals decision.  The Assembly will continue to work to enact measures to protect those subjected to domestic violence and give prosecutors the tools needed to fight abuse.”

Senator Mike Nozzolio said, “We are a State and Nation of laws and we must make it clear that individuals who threaten and intimidate others will pay a price for their actions. This measure addresses a serious hole in the penal law and will provide an important tool in domestic violence prosecutions. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue to enact legislation that protects the safety of our citizens.”

This amended law will make criminal harassing communications that threaten to cause physical harm to a victim or the victim’s property where a defendant knows or should know that the communication will cause the victim to fear such harm.

There are approximately 7,600 open matters statewide where this section of the penal law is the most serious charge. Moreover, an alleged violation of this law is an important tool for domestic violence victims, where it forms the basis for issuing an order of protection by a court to protect such victims.