Valentine's Day is about hearts and love. But all too often, relationships end up broken through domestic violence. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley is asking for residents to contact their legislators on Valentine’s Day in support of proposed legislation that would protect victims of domestic violence and enhance penalties for serial abusers.
“This Valentine’s Day, I’m calling on my legislators to support An Act Relative to Domestic Abuse and Public Safety on behalf of my wife or husband, boyfriend or girlfriend, mother or daughter, father or son,” Conley posted on his Facebook page. “There’s no better way to show you care for your partner than to support safety and respect in all relationships. This Valentine’s Day, take a minute to take a stand against domestic violence.”
Sponsored by state Rep. Ed Coppinger, D-West Roxbury, the key domestic violence components of An Act Relative to Domestic Abuse and Public Safety include:
- Creates a “second or subsequent offense” for assault and battery on a domestic partner, with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. Currently, serial batterers face only a misdemeanor conviction with a maximum sentence of 2½ years in a house of correction.
- Provides specific penalties for assault and battery by strangulation, an act that research shows correlates highly with later domestic violence homicides and attempted homicides. The offense would carry up to five years in state prison or 10 years if the victim suffers serious injury, is pregnant, or has a restraining order against the defendant.
- Prohibits judges from using the “accord and satisfaction” statute to dismiss domestic violence cases. The statute, Ch. 276, Sect. 55, of the Massachusetts General Laws, was intended to allow parties in minor physical altercations to reach satisfactory agreements outside of court, but has been used to pressure victims – especially domestic violence victims – into waiving their right to justice in a criminal courtroom over prosecutors’ objections.
“These are strong, smart updates to Massachusetts law,” said Conley. “On Valentine’s day, show your loved ones you care for them and show your legislators you support the victims of domestic violence.”