C.A. Goldberg, PLLC joins Senator Gounardes and Assembly Member Fernandez to intro 21st Century Anti-Stalking Bill 

C.A. Goldberg, PLLC joins Senator Gounardes and Assembly Member Fernandez to introduce 21st Century Anti-Stalking Bill fixing dangerous hole in NYS law.

– C.A. Goldberg, PLLC joined Senator Gounardes and Assembly Member Fernandez today to announce a new bill (Senate Bill S9136) that will make it possible for more victims of crimes such as stalking and harassment to receive relief from their alleged offender through the courts. 
-The “21st Century Anti-Stalking Act” would make it possible for survivors of harassment to obtain a restraining order without having to prove previous ‘intimate’ relationship and help victims of online harassment.

C.A. Goldberg, PLLC attorneys drafted a bill sponsored by NY Senator Andrew Gounardes and NY Assembly Member Natalie Fernandez to update the jurisdiction of Family Court. 

Despite its name, Family Court deals with relationships beyond just familial ones. Family Court is empowered to grant Orders of Protection to people who are the victims of many types of crimes. However, some people who are subject to harassment and stalking don’t qualify because they don’t have a blood relationship or a sexual relationship with their offender. New York urgently needs to fix this gaping hole. This bill would allow survivors to obtain an Order of Protection without having to prove an intimate relationship with the offender. 

Why now?

The internet makes it easier to stalk and harass people and provides new ways to inflict harm that lives in perpetuity online. We believe that safety from individuals who are harassing and stalking you should not hinge on whether you and the offender are related or have had sex. Some of the most dangerous stalkers we’ve seen are former roommates, retaliatory co-workers, people rejected on dating apps, or the ex of a romantic interest. Journalists, models, politicians, content creators, and other public figures also are frequently the target of obsessive and dangerous individuals. Social media, apps, and online databases makes stalking easier for stalkers and more dangerous for victims. Orders of Protection must acknowledge that.  Everybody who is stalked or harassed – online and offline – should be empowered to get a court order telling that person to leave them alone.   

In many other states, getting an Order of Protection is not based on the relationship between the two people. This hole in the law makes it more dangerous to live in New York.

Many times, victims just want the behavior to stop – they don’t want to go to law enforcement and they don’t necessarily want the offender to be arrested. Orders of protection are tremendously effective at permanently deterring the behavior, and fast – in a single day, a victim can petition family court for an order of protection and walk out with a temporary one that goes into effect as soon as it’s served on the offender. In contrast, it can take law enforcement weeks to decide to take a stalking complaint seriously and often after it’s escalated to dangerous levels.   

This bill will provide access to justice for many more underserved victims of crimes such as stalking and harassment (including tech-related abuse such as taking intimate images without a person‘s knowledge, publishing those videos online, and installing stalkerware onto a person’s computer) to petition our courts for relief from abusive behavior.    

“It’s time to bring our sexual harassment protections into the 21st century,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes. “In 2022, we must keep New Yorkers safe from harassment and stalking anywhere it occurs — and that includes online or after meeting someone on a dating app. No New Yorker should live in fear of being harassed or digitally stalked, and I’m eager to see this bill passed to ensure it is easier for victims of these crimes to seek the justice and protection they deserve.” 

“If we want to truly tackle all forms of sexual harassment, we need to account for the realities of 21st-century abuse,” said Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez. “I’m proud to join Senator Gounardes in introducing the 21st Century Stalking Act, which would increase family court jurisdiction and expand protections for victims of sexual harassment. The issue of online sexual harassment is personal to me as it is to many — and I’ll keep fighting alongside community advocates, activists, and fellow survivors whose voices are critical in creating structures for real accountability and protection” 

Carrie Goldberg, founder of C.A. Goldberg, PLLC said: 

Getting Orders of Protection for our clients is the most important thing we do at our law firm.  Within a single day we can go to family court and get an order that says our client’s stalker will be arrested if they have a single further communication with our client. It’s a much faster result and client-driven process than anything law enforcement can do.  And it gives the offender the opportunity to correct their behavior face consequences.  Urgent safety from individuals who are harassing and stalking you should not hinge on whether you and the offender are related or have had sex. Some of the most dangerous stalkers we’ve seen are former roommates, retaliatory co-workers, people rejected on dating apps, or the ex of a romantic interest.  Journalists, models, politicians, content creators, and other public figures also are frequently the target of obsessive and dangerous individuals they have never even met. Social media, apps, and online databases have made stalking easier for stalkers and more dangerous for victims. The law needs to catch up with how people are actually stalked and by whom. 

Naomi Leeds, Attorney at C.A. Goldberg, PLLC said: 

As digital access continues to expand, we see more offenders engaging in unreciprocated offensive contact that puts their targets in constant fear for their safety. This behavior is one-sided and doesn’t necessarily come as a result of intimate relationships. This form of harassment can occur between acquaintances and even strangers. It’s very real and very threatening. As it stands, NY Family Courts don’t have jurisdiction over these offenses. We must recognize this reality and offer victims access to civil protections that can save lives. 

Annie Seifullah, Attorney at C.A. Goldberg, PLLC said: 

“Every person has the right to be left alone and to be protected against malicious, unreciprocated contact. New York State lawmakers should be willing to protect a stalking victim from harm regardless of the victim’s relationship to the stalker. We have learned that law enforcement is not always equipped or willing to investigate stalking when it involves tech platforms or the internet. Passing this law will give victims of stalking significant protection in the form of a civil restraining order (order of protection) without the victim ever having to ever set foot in a police precinct.”

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