Courts in New York state would be able to issue orders of protection for immediate family or household members of domestic violence victims and survivors regardless of their age under legislation that has bipartisan backing.
The measure is meant to address the death of a Hudson Valley woman who was killed by her mother's ex-boyfriend. An order of protection had been issued to bar the man from contacting the mother of 29-year-old Melanie Chianese, but had been denied to Melanie herself because she wasn't a minor.
“Melanie’s Law, championed by her courageous mother Cheryl and developed in her memory, will provide a critically needed expansion to orders of protection to shield more family and household members from dangerous individuals," said Democratic state Sen. Michelle Hinchey. "This common-sense legislation will close a glaring loophole in the law, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to get it passed this session so we can better protect victims of domestic violence and abuse.”
Supporters of the legislation believe the current law includes a loophole that prevents close family members of those who have received protective orders from having one for themselves as well. If approved, the measure would expand who can be covered.
The measure has Republican support in the Legislature as well, including the backing of state Sen. Rob Rolison. Lawmakers want to see the proposal approved by June 8, when the legislative session concludes.
"If someone in your family is in jeopardy, you want to know the law is on your side. Melanie's Law will correct a serious loophole in the state's criminal procedure law," Rolison said. "I am heartened that there is such strong bipartisan support for this bill and plan on working day and night with my colleagues in both houses to get this critical piece of legislation over the finish line.”