According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than 12 million men and women each year are victims of domestic violence. There are multiple forms of domestic violence that are prevalent across the United States. Physical violence, sexual violence, and emotional abuse rank among the highest. It’s also been found that child abuse is likely to occur in homes where reports of domestic violence are present. Whether you’re a victim of domestic abuse or have been accused of domestic abuse, it’s important to understand related laws.
Domestic violence is a growing problem in our society, which is why Louisiana chose to take the issue more seriously. In Baton Rouge, state legislators extended and strengthened protections to the victims of domestic violence by approving House Bills 223 and 509. Once Gov. John Bel Edwards endorses and signs these bills, these laws will go into full effect.
Understanding Domestic Abuse in Louisiana
Domestic abuse does not always take place between a husband and wife. In fact, domestic abuse is categorized as abuse by an “intimate partner” which can include a current spouse, former spouse, current boyfriend/girlfriend, or former boyfriend/girlfriend. In addition to marriage, domestic abuse is highly prevalent in LGBT partnerships, high school relationships, and other domestic relationships.
Statistics show that domestic violence is highly prevalent outside of marriage. However, most domestic violence laws do not give rights to other parties besides a spouse. Thanks to one motivated representative, that is about to change in the state of Louisiana.
What Does House Bill 223 Do?
Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, introduced and supported the passage of Bill 223, which will extend protections to dating partners. Previously, Louisiana’s domestic violence laws only offered protection to married partners, so this amendment will allow unwed partners to seek relief and justice. Under the current law, a victim of domestic violence who isn’t married to the abuser or living with the abuser can only file charges of battery.
Bill 223 allows more victims to access state intervention programs for domestic violence. Additionally, it provides stricter penalties for domestic violence perpetrators in a dating situation. If a person is convicted and the court can prove acts of strangulation or burning, the perpetrator can face harsher penalties than they would for a simple battery conviction.
The bill was passed by a 66-32 vote, extending rights to dating partners, including those involved in same-sex relationships.
Penalties Violating Louisiana’s New Domestic Abuse Laws
Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, introduced Bill 501 and addressed the penalties for violating orders of protection. Under the new bill, breaking a protection order, even if the actions do not involve an act of violence, will result in stiffer penalties.
In cases where an act of violence did not accompany the breach, the individual would have to pay a fine of up to $500. The court could also give them a six-month jail term. A second protection order violation could bring a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, the individual could spend anywhere between two weeks to two years in jail.
Where the offender uses violence in the violation of the order of protection, prison time significantly increases. The first offense will carry a term of three months to three years. For the second offense, the individual faces imprisonment for one year to five years.
There’s one more provision that will help victims in protection order violations. Bill 509 also prohibits the accused from contacting the victim or the victim’s family members while the case is pending. This bill ensures victims are protected from future contact, even after the individual violates the order of protection.
Retain a Criminal Defense Lawyer if Facing a Domestic Abuse Charge
If you have been charged with domestic abuse, a credible defense attorney is your only hope of moving forward with your life. It’s vital that you not only pursue the best defense but that you have a seasoned Louisiana criminal defense attorney by your side through the trial process. Having a capable attorney will have a direct impact on the potential jail time and fines you might incur if found guilty by a court.
The Law Offices of John D. & Eric G. Johnson, LLC provides clients with an experienced criminal defense firm that has a mission of protecting the reputations and futures of our clients. Our legal team handles an extensive range of cases that involve violent offenses and white-collar crimes. All of our lawyers are members of the Louisiana Bar Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Don’t wait to get a reputable attorney to help minimize or dismiss domestic abuse charges. Contact us as soon as possible at (318) 377-1555 for a free case evaluation.