House Republicans outline agenda to prevent domestic violence, empower women

virginia general assemblyRepublican members of the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday outlined their legislative agenda to prevent domestic violence by enacting tougher penalties for chronic and repeat offenders and empowering victims.  Delegates Dave Albo (R-Fairfax), Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), Rob Bell (R-Albemarle), Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield), and Margaret Ransone (R-Westmoreland) held a press conference highlighting the proposed legislation.

The legislators introduced a number of bills to enact tougher penalties on repeat criminal offenders that commit domestic violence, and empower women with training to protect themselves in their most vulnerable moments. House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) also committed Thursday to looking at additional investments for domestic violence crisis services, treatment and educational resources in the House budget proposal.

“More than 12 million people become victims of domestic violence each year and the recidivism rates on these crimes are extremely high,” said Delegate Gilbert.  “Our goal is to target the chronic and repeat domestic violence offenders who pose the greatest threat to women and families. The House of Delegates is committed to stopping domestic and sexual violence by enacting tougher penalties for repeat offenders and empowering women.  Those who commit crimes of domestic violence don’t deserve third and fourth chances.  The legislation we are announcing today will crack down on habitual offenders and give women the ability to defend themselves from domestic and sexual violence when they are most vulnerable.”

“The House of Delegates has a consistent track record of investing in efforts to combat domestic violence and provide victims with access to medical care, counseling and other important resources,” said Chairman Jones. “The House Appropriations Committee has started to evaluate where additional investments can be made to provide additional services to victims of domestic and sexual violence. We will work with advocacy groups, localities and stakeholders to maximize the value of any additional investments to ensure that the victims of domestic violence have access to the services they need.”

“The legislation we have introduced will help combat domestic violence by targeting repeat offenders” said Delegate Albo.  “It is our responsibility to speak up for the thousands of individuals across Virginia affected by domestic violence.  It is important that we keep working to protect families across Virginia from the threat of chronic domestic violence offenders.”

“For more than a decade, the House of Delegates has pushed tougher laws against domestic and sexual violence in order to keep women and families safe from harm,” said Delegate Bell.  “As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand that danger that repeat offenders pose to their loved ones.  I am proud to continue to stand up for families across Virginia in helping combat domestic violence.  We must continue the progress we have made until we have stopped domestic violence altogether.”

“One in four women and one in seven men will experience severe physical violence from a spouse or partner during their lifetimes,” said Delegate Robinson.  “It is important that we do everything we can to combat domestic violence, including legislation to strengthen penalties for perpetrators, and empower women to feel safe. Once is too much, but many women are repeat victims of domestic violence. Cracking down on habitual offenders will reduce the greatest dangers women face.”

“Through this legislative initiative, we are continuing to take proactive steps to empower women and families who have been affected by domestic violence,” said Delegate Ransone. “We stand with these victims and hope to assure that they get the support needed to live in the Commonwealth without fear of further abuse.”


Domestic violence initiatives

Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates are outlining a robust agenda to prevent and combat violence against women by enacting tougher penalties for repeat offenders and empowering victims.

Tougher Penalties for Repeat Offenders

  • HB609 (Bell)Protective orders; assault and battery; penalty. Provides that a person who is the subject of a protective order who commits an assault and battery resulting in bodily injury on the person protected by the order is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
  • HB610 (Bell) – Violations of protective orders; penalty. Provides that any person who commits any assault or bodily wounding upon or stalks any party protected by a protective order is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
  • HB754 (Bell) – Domestic violence-related misdemeanors; enhanced penalty. Punishes a misdemeanor offense of violating a protective order, assault and battery against a family or household member, or stalking as a Class 6 felony if the person charged had been previously convicted of any of these offenses against the same person.
  • HB765 (Gilbert) – First offense assault and battery against a family or household member; enhanced penalties. Provides that the deferral and dismissal of a first offense of assault and battery against a family or household member will be treated as a prior conviction for the purpose of determining whether a person is eligible for the enhanced Class 6 felony penalties for stalking or assault and battery.
  • HB886 (Albo) – Stalking; penalty. Provides that a second offense of stalking committedwithin five years of a prior stalking conviction is punishable as a Class 6 felony. Under current law, a second offense of stalking only qualifies for the Class 6 penalty if the person convicted had also been convicted of certain offenses involving assaults or bodily woundings or of violating a protective order.
  • HB1087 (Gilbert) Violation of protective order; possession of a firearm or other deadly weapon; penalty. Provides that any person who violates a protective order while possessing a firearm or deadly weapon is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Empowering Victims

  • HB766 (Gilbert) – Carrying concealed handguns; protective orders. Authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and is protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued.
  • HB768 (Gilbert) – Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course. Provides that the DCJS may distribute funds from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, and family abuse.
  • HB767 (Gilbert) – Assault and battery against a family or household member; eliminate deferral and dismissal. Eliminates a court’s authority to defer and dismiss criminal proceedings against a person charged with a first offense of assault and battery against a family or household member.
  • HB752 (Bell) – Stalking; penalty. Provides that contacting or following or attempting to contact or follow the person at whom stalking conduct is directed after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed, is evidence that the person intended to place the other person in fear.

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