Domestic Violence Law Cracks Down On Repeat Offenders

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Domestic violence is an all-too-common call for police in the north country.

To combat the problem, a new law is now on the books in New York.

It's the Domestic Violence Law of Aggravated Family Offense.

It could mean felony charges for repeat offenders like Justin Aldridge.

The 23 year old was arrested March 15 in the village of Canton for allegedly violating a protective order against his girlfriend.

He'd been convicted of criminal mischief twice before (criminal mischief is one of the crimes included under the Domestic Violence Law of Aggravated Family Offense).

The law took effect in January.

It creates the Class E felony of Aggravated Family Offense, which allows law enforcement to prosecute as felons those who commit more than one domestic violence offense - against any victim - within five years.

"It takes this out of the realm of being the same victim and focuses on, in my opinion, the same alleged pattern of behavior," said Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy Intschert.

The law is aimed at protecting victims from further harm.

Elaina Marra, executive director of the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, hopes the potential for a felony charge will be enough to discourage abusers.  

"That is what it's all about. It's keeping our victims safe. It's keeping their children safe and it's one more step in the correct direction," she said.

The maximum sentence for felonies under the new law is four years in state prison.

Marra says she hopes the higher consequences will mean fewer incidents of domestic violence.

Monday, October 20, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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