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Empire Justice Applauds Governor for Signing Bill that Provides Victims of Domestic Violence from Economic Abuse


December 19, 2013

Contact: Kristin Brown,  (518) 462-6831
Amy Schwartz-Wallace,  (585) 454-4060

Empire Justice Center today expressed great pleasure at the news that Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed this critical and very necessary bill into law. 

“Many times, domestic violence victims experience additional suffering at the hands of their abusers, due to identity theft, monetary or property theft.  Economic abuse is a very common form of domestic violence that not only inflicts immediate injury, but is designed to create long-standing obstacles that prevent the victim from achieving economic independence, self-sufficiency and financial security well after the abusive relationship has ended.  These actions may impair the victim’s ability to rent an apartment, purchase a home or a car, apply for employment, and otherwise attempt to move forward with their lives,” said Amy Schwartz, Senior Attorney in the Rochester office of Empire Justice Center.  “Even after they are free, issues such as identity theft or ruined credit can take months or years to undo and repair.  After hearing from advocates across the state about this troubling issue, we believed the time was ripe to push for legislation that would provide economic abuse victims with an additional avenue of relief and enable the courts to hold abusers accountable for their destructive actions and control.”

This law (A.7400/S.5821) will help domestic violence victims by expanding the list of enumerated family offenses to now include identity theft, grand larceny and coercion.  As these crimes will now be recognized as economic abuse, it will provide such victims with important new avenues of relief, such as access to Family Court family offense proceedings, criminal family offense orders of protection, restitution and mandatory arrest.  Courts will be also be empowered to order the return of vital “identification documents” that the victim fled without or the abuser may be withholding such as a birth certificate, passport, benefit card, tax returns, driver’s license and immigration documents.  The law will take effect immediately.

“In witnessing this problem statewide and noting the need for immediate action to strengthen the law, we worked with Assemblymember Helene Weinstein and Senator Joe Robach to bring the bill forward within the State Legislature,” said Kristin Brown Lilley, Vice President for Policy & Government Relations at Empire Justice.  “We are pleased, but not at all surprised, that Governor Cuomo agreed that this new law was a critical step to ensure that the individuals our justice system seeks to protect are not further victimized by economic abuse at the hands of their abusers.”

“By recognizing the full range of abusive behaviors in this legislation, the ability of abusers to inflict additional economic harm on their victims will be diminished significantly, as the courts will have new tools to aid domestic violence victims more efficiently and effectively,” Schwartz concluded.  “We applaud the Governor and the bill sponsors for their speedy and decisive action.” 


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Empire Justice Center is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy, public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low income families live.  With offices in Albany, Rochester, White Plains and on Long Island, Empire Justice Center seeks to protect and strengthen the legal rights of people in New York State who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised through: systems change advocacy, training and support to other advocates and organizations, and through high quality direct civil legal representation.