Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro

Today’s Sunbeam – Assemblywoman Celeste M. Riley (D-3) sponsored two bills that help protect victims and children from domestic violence.

Riley introduced a bill last week that makes it a crime to commit a domestic violence act in front of a child who is 16 years old or younger.

The bill (A-3271) was introduced in anticipation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Many children who have witnessed domestic abuse at home develop emotional and behavioral problems that impact their development,” Riley said. “They often carry that scar into adulthood and see violence as an appropriate reaction to conflict. It’s a sickening cycle with dangerous consequences.”

The abuser would be subject to prosecution for both the underlying offense and the separate crime of committing an act of domestic violence in the presence of a child.

The bill specifies that the child must be present or the abuser must be aware the child was present and may see or hear the abuse.

“Research shows that children who witness violence are at risk of confounding problems such as failing at school, committing violence against others and suffering low self-esteem,” Riley said.

“It is a parent’s responsibility to protect their children, but if they can’t, we as a state should remind them that this type of behavior is not acceptable ad that there will be consequences for their actions.”

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

A second bill (A-3219) sponsored by Riley allows domestic violence victims to utilize closed-circuit television while testifying against their abusers.

“Many victims struggle with reporting their abusers out of fear for their safety. The same fear extends to testifying against them in court,” Riley said. “This bill ensures a victim can have her day in court without being intimidated by her abuser.”

Closed-circuit television can be used if the court determines that there is a substantial likelihood that the witness would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court.

The bill is also sponsored by Gabriela M. Mosquera (D-4), Paul D. Moriarty (D-4) and Angel Fuentes (D-5).

“Having to recount an abusive relationship in front of your abuser can be unnerving for an individual who’s been battered,” Mosquera said. “Allowing victims to testify via close-circuit television allows them to confront their abusers without fear.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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