NY Prosecutors Find It Hard to Prove Choking Cases Under New Law


In 2010, New York State created a felony called second-degree strangulation to help prosecutors fight domestic violence by upgrading a form of assault they say is favored by abusers, says the New York Times. New York's law, like dozens of choking statutes across the U.S., is popular with law enforcement officials. In 2011 in New York City, of 1,458 cases considered misdemeanors under the old law — more than 9 percent of them — were charged as felony strangulation.

Second-degree strangulation–choking to the point of injury, impairment, stupor, or unconsciousness–can leave ambiguous marks or no marks at all, making it tricky to prove. “If you don't know how to follow the bread crumbs it's very easy to miss,” said Gael Strack of the National Strangulation Training Institute, an anti-domestic-violence group based in San Diego. Of the thousands of defendants charged in New York City, fewer than 20 have gone to trial, state officials said. Experts say that thousands of police and medical professionals around the U.S. have not been trained on how to execute the new statutes.

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