Bill would deny bail in strangulation cases

Capital News Service

RICHMOND – People accused of strangulation would automatically be denied bail under legislation sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.

Proponents of House Bill 2120 say it will help protect victims of domestic violence. The Senate and House unanimously approved the measure during the final week of the legislative session.

The bill was sponsored by Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, with input from Attorney General Mark Herring.

In 2012, when Herring served in the General Assembly, he and Cline worked together on a bill that made strangulation a Class 6 felony. Herring’s office said that closed “a loophole that had previously allowed some domestic abusers to avoid the consequences of their action.”

“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,” Herring said. “This bill will give survivors a chance to connect with the resources they need without fear of further victimization.”

If the bill is signed into law, strangulation will be added to the list of crimes – such as repeated violations of a protective order, gang crimes and child exploitation – for which it is presumed that no bail shall be given.

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

In 2013 in Virginia, there were 122 family and intimate partner homicides – a 4 percent increase from 2012.

Also in 2013, there were more than 65,000 calls to domestic and sexual violence call centers across the state. Moreover, magistrates and judges in Virginia issued nearly 49,000 emergency protective orders to protect the immediate health and safety of victims and their family members.

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