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NYS: Expanded financial assistance & protections for victims and survivors of crime


Tue, Jan 3rd 2023 12:10 pm

Package of new laws proposed by NYS Office of Victim Services & signed by Hochul last summer now effective

√ Individuals who are victims of ‘revenge porn,’ and first- and second-degree reckless endangerment, who file claims on or after Dec. 27, 2022, now eligible to seek compensation for certain crime-related costs

√ Victims and survivors of domestic violence may now use additional documents and information to prove identity theft before debt collection can occur

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced three laws expanding financial assistance and protections for victims and survivors of crime who have not been physically injured are now effective.

Individuals who are victims of unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image, commonly referred to as "revenge porn," and first- and second-degree reckless endangerment, whose claims are filed with the state Office of Victim Services on or after Dec. 27, 2022, may now seek compensation from Office of Victim Services for certain crime-related costs. In addition, victims and survivors of interpersonal violence may now use additional documents and information to prove identity theft before debt collection can occur.

"Here in New York, we support victims in every way possible, and we will continue to adapt our laws in order to keep New Yorkers safe," Hochul said. "I am proud to have been able to work with my partners in the Legislature to enact this legislative package to help victims seek the justice they deserve and make New York a safer state for all."

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, "We are incredibly grateful to Gov. Hochul for standing up on behalf of victims who were previously voiceless against their attackers and ineligible for compensation. With these amendments going into effect, victims have expanded access to resources that are necessary to get back to their lives. We are proud of the work we do day in and day out for victims and are ready to assist those who are now newly protected."

Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owens said, "Over 99% of domestic violence victims experience financial abuse, including forced debt and identity theft. These new laws increase access to critical financial resources for survivors of gender-based violence so that they can heal and regain economic stability. We are grateful to the governor for her commitment to survivors of gender-based violence and her deep understanding of the critical need to provide protections for survivors of predatory crimes such as ‘revenge porn.’ "

A press release stated, “The Office of Victim Services provides a critical financial safety net for victims and survivors of crime who have no other resources to pay for crime-related expenses. While many of those expenses stem from individuals being injured during the crime, state law allows certain non-physically injured victims and survivors of intimate partner violence, hate and other crimes, to seek compensation from the agency for certain costs they have incurred.”

Hochul’s team further explained that individuals who are victims of revenge porn (Penal Law Section 245.15) are now eligible to seek compensation for counseling and moving expenses, reimbursement for loss of earnings, and the repair or replacement of essential personal property from the agency. Individuals who are victims of first- and second-degree reckless endangerment (Penal Law sections 120.20 and 120.25) are now eligible to seek compensation for expense related to counseling, the unreimbursed costs of securing a crime scene and crime scene cleanup, and reimbursement for loss of earnings.

In addition, the state's general business law has been amended to provide individuals who are victims of identity theft alternate ways to report the crime and allow them to provide additional documentation that must be considered by creditors, which must stop any debt collection activities until they have completed a review of that documentation. Individuals now have the option of reporting the identity theft to law enforcement or through a filing to the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Victim's reporting process. Creditors must now also consider statements by the victim of coercion, and/or criminal or family court documents before pursuing collection.

The press release stated, “Financial assistance administered by OVS also helps victims, survivors and family members with medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, loss of support, in addition to other assistance. New York is the only state in the nation with no cap on medical or counseling costs, which means individuals can receive assistance as long as they need it. The Office of Victim Services also funds and supports 239 victim assistance programs across the state that provide crisis counseling, therapy, emergency shelter, civil legal assistance, case management and advocacy, among other services, across the state.”

While eligibility for compensation or reimbursement is determined by an individual's income and access to other resources, such as health insurance, victim assistance programs provide services and support at no cost to anyone who needs them. Visit the Office of Victim Services' website for more information and follow the agency on Twitter and Facebook.

New York state also provides 24/7 support for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Call 800-942-6906; text 844-997-2121; or chat at opdv.ny.gov.

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