ALBANY, N.Y., March 21 (Reuters) - Manhattan District
Attorney Cyrus Vance on Wednesday renewed his call for state
lawmakers to pass a bill that would make it a felony to commit
multiple domestic violence offenses.
Currently, offenders may only be charged with misdemeanors if
they do not cause serious injury or death to a victim,
regardless of the number of prior convictions. The proposal
would create the felony crime of aggravated domestic violence
for people convicted of at least two offenses in any five-year
A serial offender is "treated the same way on his first
offense as he is on his hundredth," Vance told a crowd of more
than 200 domestic violence prevention advocates at a lobbying
event near the State Capitol in Albany. "That is not justice for
Vance said the measure would aid victims and families
because orders of protection issued in felony cases last longer
than those for misdemeanor offenses.
"It sends a message to abusers and victims that the criminal
justice system does not tolerate recurring acts of domestic
violence," Vance said on Wednesday.
He pointed to a number of cases tried by his office in which
victims were killed or seriously injured by repeat domestic
violence offenders. In Manhattan between 2007 to 2011, Vance
said, 685 people were convicted of two or more domestic violence
Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said he drew
up the bill in honor of NYPD Officer Alain Schaberger, who was
killed a year ago while responding to a domestic violence call.
The suspect, George Villanueva, who had been convicted of a
dozen domestic violence misdemeanors, pushed Schaberger over a
The officer's death "is a reminder that domestic violence
starts in the home but its costs ripple out into the community,"
The measure passed the state Assembly Wednesday, but is
currently stalled in the Senate.
Last week, it was one of more than 300 Democrat-sponsored
bills that was moved into a different legislative committee by
Republican leaders in the Senate, which could make it more
difficult to bring up for a vote.
Squadron said he is not sure whether the Senate will vote on
the bill during the current session, which ends in June.
The New York City Bar Association this month released a memo
in support of the bill, writing that "the felony level
charge...will allow law enforcement to hold offenders
responsible for repeatedly committing these offenses and
possibly prevent further abuse."
Reporting by Dan Wiessner)
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(Updates to include passage of bill in Assembly on