Thursday, July 24, 2014

New York passes new laws to crack down on domestic violence, lewdness against children

New York state lawmakers enacted a series of bills Wednesday (July 23) that strengthen existing laws and add new measures to protect people from electronic harassment, stalking, and public lewdness.

Under the new laws, Second-degree Aggravated Harassment will make it a crime to use 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."

The harassment legislation is in response to a recent court decision, striking down a previous version of the law on First Amendment grounds.

The anti-stalking measure prohibits the tracking of a person with an electronic device where "likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property" of another person or their families.

Finally, the state enacted a new statute, creating the crime of Public Lewdness in the First Degree, a class A misdemeanor. It applies to persons aged 19 or older who intentionally expose themselves to children under the age of 16. It is punishable by up to one year in county jail.

Previously, Public Lewdness was only a class B misdemeanor, and provided no additional penalties when the act was committed against a child.

It is hoped that these new laws, focusing on threats and endangerment of others, will strengthen protections for vulnerable members of the population, while ensuring important rights to free and open expression.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New York's Top Court strikes down cyberbullying law on free speech grounds

Legal Insurrection reports that "[t]he New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that a local law intended to protect children from cyberbullying violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment because it was too broad."