Lawmakers Working on Domestic Violence Law Changes
A seven bill package that would drastically overhaul the state’s domestic violence laws has passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority of votes. But this is only one stop along the way. The bills will now have to return to the House for approval before heading to the Governor’s desk, where they will either be signed into law, or be rejected in favor of alternative adjustments to current law.
According to Representative Kurt Heise, the reason behind the bills was to address as many aspects of domestic violence as possible. As of now, the law doesn’t address many of the ways that alleged abusers attempt to manipulate and control their victims. This could include harming someone’s pet as a means of controlling their behavior, and terrorizing them to ensure compliance.
Other aspects of the law that would be updated by the bills are as follows:
- Allowing victims to list their pets on their personal protection orders.
- Updated rules for people undergoing domestic mediation through the court.
- If a child was conceived through sexual assault, the new laws would prohibit the “aggressor” parent from having custody or visitation rights.
- Create an entirely new legal category for the assault of a pregnant woman.
- Update sentencing guidelines for those convicted of assaulting or battering a pregnant woman
According to a statement released by Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons, the laws are in desperate need of updating, which would send a message to survivors of domestic violence that they are not alone. “Too often in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence, a rapist will use the threat of seeking custody of the child to intimidate pregnant victims into not pressing criminal charges of the attack,” Lyons said in a statement. “It is unthinkable that we would allow this to occur when we have the ability to provide victims with the protection and peace of mind they need in order to heal.”
Obviously, it will be some time before the bills become law, and they still have some hurdles to overcome along the way. But we will keep you updated on all legislative changes that could affect our clients in the future.