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Thousands Charged with Violating New York’s New Strangulation Law in Domestic Violence Cases

Two thousand people have been arrested in just a few months since New York enacted a law that specifically prohibits strangulation, according to Reuters News.

A spokesperson for the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services called the 2,000 arrests in 15 weeks “unprecedented” and “staggering.” Police and prosecutors argue the new law is necessary because of issues prosecuting defendants who leave little or no visible injury on their alleged victims. The law is most often used in connection with domestic violence in New York.
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Criminal defense lawyers in the Bronx and on Long Island understand the importance of properly defendant against allegations of domestic violence. Such cases are frequently brought during a contentious breakup, divorce, or custody battle. And the zero-tolerance policies of law enforcement make it one of the most abused laws in the state. Allegations can impact a defendant’s relationship with friends and family, may negatively influence a pending divorce and can result in protection orders that prevent a defendant from seeing his family or even returning home.

“As these dramatic statistics show, law enforcement has been putting this statute to very good use. The statute is a great example of what can happen when domestic violence victim advocates, law enforcement, and elected officials work collaboratively to solve a real and compelling problem,” said Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne. “The strangulation laws provide law enforcement with strong and effective tools to stop domestic abusers and rapists who use strangulation as a means to subdue their victims.”

The problem, however, is that it allows law enforcement another means of charging a defendant with domestic violence in cases where there is little or no evidence of assault or injury. Sixty percent of the violations issued under the new law — some 1,200 in all — have occurred in New York City. King County reported the most with 467, followed by 248 in Queens County, 240 in Bronx County, 179 in New York County and 66 in Richmond County.

Only four counties in the state — Cattaragus, Hamilton, Lewis and Tioga — reported at least one arrest. Outside the city, Suffolk County reported the most arrests with 11.

The law went into effect Nov. 11, 2010 and recognizes three strangulation offenses: Criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, a Class A misdemeanor; second-degree strangulation, a Class D felony, and first-degree strangulation, a Class C felony.

Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail. A class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years in prison while a Class C felony is punishable by up to 15 years behind bars.

Ninety-four percent of the offenders arrested were males and most were between the ages of 20 and 29. The NYPD made 1,1198 arrests, followed by the Suffolk County Police Department (106) and New York State Police (78).

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman represents defendants facing criminal charges in New York City, Long Island and the surrounding areas. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.