It was announced today that New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a package of legislation relating to online abuse.
The package features two bills:
- Legislation (S.623/A.2206)
- Legislation (S.2956A/A.324)
Legislation S.2956A/A.324 expands the definition of coercion to include the production and distribution of intimate images. This amendment will hold individuals who coerce another person into producing or distributing intimate images under threat of physical or emotional harm accountable under the law.
We often refer to coercion to produce and distribute intimate images as Sextortion. Sextortion usually involves sexual exploitation in which abuse of power is used to control the victim and/or when somebody is coerced into doing something and then threatened with the release of sexual images.
Sometimes the perpetrator is known to the victim. Increasingly in our New York practice we see minors being “sextorted” by classmates from school, or by people they meet on social media platforms who pretend to be a peer.
C.A. Goldberg, PLLC seen a drastic increase in tech-facilitated grooming and sextortion of teens and pre-teens during this pandemic with a 75% increase in underage victims last year.
Sometimes, it takes place within an abusive intimate relationship. And sometimes the offender is anonymous or impersonating another person and may live on the other side of the world. Over a period of time the stranger earns the victim’s trust and gets the victim to send nude images or strip on webcam.
Legislation S.2956A/A.324 is an act to amend the penal law in relation to a crime known as coercion in the third degree. Here’s what it says:
A person is guilty of coercion in the third degree when he or she compels or induces a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from engaging in, or to abstain from engaging in conduct in which he or she has a legal right to engage, or compels or induces a person to join a group, organization or criminal enterprise which such latter person has a right to abstain from joining, OR COMPELS OR INDUCES A PERSON TO PRODUCE, DISSEMINATE, OR OTHERWISE DISPLAY AN IMAGE OR IMAGES DEPICTING NUDITY OF SUCH PERSON OR DEPICTING SUCH PERSON ENGAGED IN SEXUAL CONDUCT AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISIONS TWO AND THREE OF SECTION 235.20 OF THIS CHAPTER, by means of instilling in him or her a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another
- Cause physical injury to a person; or
- Cause damage to property; or
- Engage in other conduct constituting a crime; or
- Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against him or her; or
- Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule; or
- Cause a strike, boycott or other collective labor group action injurious to some person’s business; except that such a threat shall not be deemed coercive when the act or omission compelled is for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act; or
- Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
- Use or abuse his or her position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his or her official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely; or
- Perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his or her health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.
Coercion in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor in NY. This means that, upon conviction of a Class “A” misdemeanor, a court may sentence an individual to up to one year in jail, or three years probation, and a fine of up to $1,000.
You can read the new text, and find out who sponsored it, on the Senate website here.
Legislation S.623/A.2206 creates a task force to explore and address the impacts of cyber-bullying. The task force will determine the prevalence of cyber-bullying, make recommendations on how to prevent it, and identify the ways in which the state can be a resource in assisting adults and children who are victims of such bullying, including children who experience bullying outside of a school setting.
“There’s nothing more important than keeping our communities safe, and as technology advances, it is crucial that New York has strong laws to protect New Yorkers from online harassment.” – Governor Hochul
Are you dealing with sextortion, extortion, or blackmail? Our attorneys specialize in real time crisis management for sensitive situations like this. We help victims from all walks of life take back control. We can help get restraining orders and/or Orders of Protection and can advocate for your identity to be kept anonymous during a court proceeding.
Get in touch here.