In 2017, Gwen’s Law was passed to protect domestic abuse victims like Gwen Salley, who was kidnapped, shot, and killed by her husband, who then shot himself. Her tragic domestic violence case led to the passing of House Bill 1142, otherwise known as “Gwen’s Law.” By enacting Gwen’s Law, courts in Louisiana were required to conduct hearings before granting bail to people arrested on domestic abuse charges and to determine whether the alleged offender may cause further harm in the future.
If you’re a Louisiana resident arrested for a domestic violence offense, it’s essential to understand Gwen’s Law and how it may affect your case. We recommend contacting an experienced attorney like John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, whose expertise and knowledge can help you navigate the complexities of Louisiana’s legal system.
Understanding Gwen’s Law
Gwen’s Law states that for individuals charged with domestic abuse, battery, violating protective orders, stalking, or any felony offense involving force or threat of force against a member of their family, household, or dating partner, a contradictory bail hearing can be held before setting bail.
The factors taken into consideration to decide for or against a contradictory hearing include:
- The severity of the offense
- Evidence against the alleged offender
- Previous criminal records of the alleged offender
- The ability of the alleged offender to post bail
- If the alleged offender was released, what kind of threat would he pose to other people or the community as a whole?
- The alleged offender’s voluntary participation in a pretrial drug testing program
- Whether or not the alleged offender has ingested or is in possession of any controlled dangerous substance
- If the alleged offender is out on bail for a previous felony arrest awaiting prosecution, arraignment, trial, or sentence
If a judge finds evidence that the alleged offender poses an imminent threat to anyone or the community, or that there is a substantial risk that the offender will flee, the judge may order them to remain in custody pending trial without bail.
Contradictory Hearing Results
After weighing all of the factors mentioned above, the judge may make one of the following decisions:
- Deny Bail: Depending on the case’s disposition, the court can deny bail if they deem the defendant to be a significant risk. To deny bail, there must be compelling evidence that the defendant poses a risk to the general community.
- Grant Bail: If the judge deems that the offender poses no significant threat to the victim or their loved ones, the judge will grant bail. However, they won’t be able to roam around freely. Offenders often have to wear an ankle monitoring device at all times or are placed under house arrest.
Gwen’s Law also mandates that individuals convicted of certain crimes related to domestic abuse must be sentenced to a minimum period of imprisonment without the possibility of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. These crimes include second-degree murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, and battery involving domestic abuse.
Seek Help at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm Today
Gwen’s Law is an important piece of legislation in Louisiana that aims to protect victims of domestic violence and hold perpetrators accountable. If you have been arrested for a crime related to domestic abuse, it is crucial to seek the guidance of a skilled attorney specializing in criminal defense. John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm can provide you with the support you need during this challenging time. Our lawyers boast extensive knowledge of the legal system and are committed to protecting the rights of our clients while working towards the best possible outcome.
While Gwen’s Law is great for helping keep families safe, you want to be sure that as a defendant, your rights are still considered, and having the proper legal counsel by your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Call us today at (318) 377-1555 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.