SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – On Thursday, the Senate passed a new bill that’s upping the penalties for those convicted of domestic abuse, but along with those tougher penalties, the bill also creates a new law allowing police more ability to get batterers off the street.
Domestic abuse is on the the most prevalent crimes across the state.
It’s impact can be devastating to the victims who are often silenced by feelings of shame, but the new bill that’s just been passed by the Senate takes an emphatic stance against this form of abuse.
The bill has many facets but one measure prohibits victims and abusers from entering into an accord and satisfaction agreement. Those provisions provide compensation from an aggressor to a victim.
It’s a process that can be misused if a defense attorney pressures a victim to agree, and those motions can stop a domestic abuse complaint in it’s tracks.
“We lose about 15 to 20 percent of all our cases every year to accord and satisfactions and this will force the perpetrator and the victim to really address domestic violence and make sure it doesn’t escalate,” explains Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.
The bill boosts penalties for violations of a restraining order and it requires people who have been convicted of domestic violence to complete a batterer’s intervention program which also requires a $300 fine when enrolling.
It doesn’t end there. With the support of law enforcement, this bill would create a new crime of strangulation and strangulation with serious bodily injury, which would carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
“The only purpose that your putting your hands around someones neck and cutting off their wind is to kill that person,” says Sergeant John Delaney of the Springfield Police Department.
The creation of the separate charge also allows law enforcement more opportunity to get abusers off the streets.
“Even if the victim doesn’t want to testify later on as far as the domestic violence issue, strangulation is still on the books and we can still go forward with the case,” Delaney adds.
The bill also takes the victims of abuse into consideration.
Employers with 50 or more employees will need to provide up to 15 days of leave per year for employees who may be victims of abuse, so that they can address health, housing, court or other issues that relate to the abuse.
Before it can become law, the bill must first to go to the House and then be signed by the Governor.