ALBANY – A bill sponsored by senator Cathy Young (R-Olean) that would make it easier for victims of domestic violence to testify in court has been approved by the state Senate. Under current state law, only children deemed “vulnerable” by a judge are allowed to testify by closed-circuit television – allowing them to avoid having to see their alleged abuser. Senator Young’s amendment to the law would include “domestic violence victims” as “vulnerable” witnesses in criminal proceedings.
Senate bill 754 states that the court may use findings of fact to determine that closed-circuit television will decrease the chance of harm to the victim. Several factors considered are whether there have been threats against the witness or the witness’ family, if the witness suffered serious physical injury as a result of the crime, if the crime committed was particularly heinous, or that it is likely the witness will suffer serious mental or emotional harm if not permitted to testify using closed-circuit technology.
The bill is now in the Assembly.