Governor Cuomo signed multiple bills into law Wednesday July 23rd, each of which intended to combat domestic violence. These new bills will improve New York’s laws relating to stalking and aggravated harassment. They will strengthen existing laws and add completely new measures to protect New Yorkers from GPS related stalking, aggravated harassment, and public lewdness/indecent exposure.
GPS DEVICES AND STALKING:
One measure adds the unauthorized tracking by GPS or any other electronic device to the definition of illegal following in the state’s fourth-degree stalking statute. This means situations which were not previously technically illegal can now be classified as stalking, and prosecuted accordingly.
Another measure clarified the second-degree harassment statute. The words in the previous statute, outlawing communication “in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm” were removed and replaced with stricter, more specific phrases. The statute now applies to situations where a guilty party “knows or reasonably should know” that a certain contact will cause another person to “reasonably fear harm to such person’s physical safety or property, or to the physical safety or property of a member of such person’s same family or household.” This, once again, means that situations which may not have previously been considered harassment, can now be classified as such.
The last measure Cuomo has enacted classifies Public Lewdness (or Indecent Exposure) in the First Degree as a class A misdemeanor. This applies to offenders age 19 and up who intentionally expose themselves to children under the age of 16. Exposing oneself to a minor is now punishable by up to one year in county jail.