Representative Nick Collins joined House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and his House colleagues in voting for a comprehensive domestic violence bill which creates new criminal offenses and elevated penalties, boosts prevention efforts and seeks to empower victims.
The legislation establishes a first offense domestic assault and battery charge that will allow officials to immediately contextualize charges as domestic in nature and take appropriate punitive action. It also creates a separate and specific charge of strangulation and suffocation, actions that statistically indicate an abuser is more likely to commit domestic violence related homicide in the future.
“We, as public officials and as a society, must do everything in our power to stem the tragic tide of violence against women,” Speaker DeLeo said. “This legislation represents some of the strongest, most comprehensive domestic violence legislation in at least a generation. I thank the Attorney General for her collaboration on this bill and offer my sincere gratitude to the advocates and individuals who so courageously shared their experiences.”
Since last summer, when a crime wave hit South Boston, particularly violence against women in his district, Rep. Collins urged House leadership to strengthen anti-violence laws.
“This bill empowers law enforcement to break the cycle of violence against women by repeat abusers,” said Rep. Collins. “We have an obligation to protect our families from domestic violence and to provide victims of violence with the support they need. This bill gets us one step closer to fulfilling that commitment.”
The bill gives law enforcement officials, attorneys, judges and medical professionals updated resources to help balance prevention and punishment.
The legislation streamlines and standardizes records to ensure that officials have the most accurate information and that parties across the jurisdictions have access to an offender’s complete history.
The bill abolishes the antiquated practice of allowing accord and satisfaction in domestic violence cases and establishes the following crimes:
- Domestic assault or domestic assault and battery near a court house; and
- Domestic assault or domestic assault and battery with the intent to intimidate or prevent access to courts.
The bill also includes the following provisions:
- Delays the issuance of bail for offenders to provide the victim with time for safety planning and authorizes the revocation bail in certain cases;
- Establishes employment leave for victims of abuse;
- Increases victim confidentiality by prohibiting information regarding domestic violence complaints from being included in daily police logs which are public record;
- Broadens court authorization to issue limited custody and support orders; and
- Makes it easier for women to obtain pepper by removing the requirement of obtaining an FID card.