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Cuomo signs legislation establishing domestic violence advocate-victim privilege


Mon, Jul 26th 2021 11:55 am

Legislation establishes domestic violence advocates may not disclose any communication made by a client to advocate except in certain circumstances

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation (S.1789/A.2520) establishing a domestic violence advocate-victim privilege wherein domestic violence advocates shall not disclose any communication made by a client to the advocate except in certain circumstances.

"Of the many societal ills laid bare during this pandemic, the scourge of domestic violence is among the ugliest," Cuomo said. "Conversation between a domestic violence survivor and an advocate should be a safe space, and I'm proud to sign this measure that puts this standard in place. Getting help is not always easy, but New York is doing all they can to ease the process for those put in this unthinkable position."

This legislation amends the Civil Practice Law and Rules to prohibit a domestic violence advocate in a licensed domestic violence program from disclosing communications made by a client unless authorized by the client, or if the disclosure reveals intent to commit a crime or a harmful act. Additionally, this also adds a new provision allowing disclosure if there is suspected child abuse or maltreatment. Clients or their conservators may waive the privilege, but the rape crisis counselor or domestic violence advocate must provide written, informed and time-limited consent.

New York State Sen. James Sanders Jr. said, "Establishing in the law a domestic violence advocate-victim privilege is long-overdue to help address domestic violence by promoting safety, healing and justice for its victims."

Assemblywomen Helene Weinstein said, "Victims of domestic violence should be able to speak freely with domestic violence counselors without fear of reprisals or discovery by their abusers. Domestic violence should be met with common-sense ways to help victims, and this bill does just that."

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