Augusta Free Press

General Assembly passes bill from Herring, Cline to protect domestic violence victims

The General Assembly passed a bill from Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Delegate Ben Cline (24-Rockbridge) to protect victims of domestic violence by denying bail for individuals charged with felony strangulation. In 2012, Herring and Cline worked to make strangulation a felony, closing a loophole that had previously allowed some domestic abusers to avoid the consequences of their actions. The bill now goes to Governor Terry McAuliffe for his consideration.

“As a state senator, I worked with Del. Cline to make sure strangulation was treated as the serious crime that it is, and this year, I’m glad that we are taking the next step to protect survivors of domestic violence,” said Attorney General Herring. “This bill will give survivors a chance to connect with the resources they need without fear of further victimization.”

“I am pleased that my bill to protect domestic violence victims has passed the Senate and the House of Delegates,” said Cline. “Maintaining a presumption against bond for individuals charged with felony strangulation is an important step to ensure the safety of survivors of domestic abuse.”

Attorney General Herring and Delegate Cline worked to draft and introduce HB2120 to add strangulation to the list of crimes where it is presumed that no bail shall be given, alongside such other serious crimes as repeated violations of a protective order, gang crimes, and child exploitation.

Based upon the most recent data available, it is estimated that there were 122 family and intimate partner homicides in 2013, representing a four percent 4% increase from 2012. Also in 2013, there were more than 65,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence hotlines across the state. A total of 3,281 adults and 2,677 children received 188,669 nights of emergency or temporary shelter due to domestic violence; however, 3,639 families requesting shelter services were turned away due to lack of shelter space. A total of 48,865 emergency protective orders were issued by magistrates and judges across the Commonwealth to protect the immediate health and safety of victims and their family members.