New legislation would strengthen laws regarding domestic violence
Last Thursday, April 14, a package of bills that would strengthen laws and increase penalties surrounding domestic violence incidents received unanimous passage in the state Senate.
According to Michigan State Police statistics from 2014 — the most recent data available — there were 91,147 victims of some form of domestic violence, ranging from 30,980 minor injuries to more than 4,000 sexual assaults and 99 murders.
State Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, one of the sponsors of the legislation, in an interview with another source, said “Michigan is definitely lacking in domestic violence laws. It’s time we put our foot down. This just shows what we’re about and that we’re making sure women are safe in Michigan.”
The bills would:
• Give a judge more discretion in whether to order mediation in a domestic-relations case if one of the parties had a personal protection order against the other, or a child abuse or neglect charge was an issue for one of the parties.
• Allow for alternative forms of serving legal papers on a person to protect the address of an individual who has a personal protection order.
• Allow a person seeking a personal protection order to include banning a person from harming any animals owned by the protected person.
• Increase the penalties for assault and battery of a pregnant woman by a spouse or a former partner in a domestic violence situation from a misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. For a person who has previous assault convictions, the crime would be a felony and the sentence would increase to five years in prison.
• Allow for the modification of the judicial ruling standard of what is in the best interest of the child when a domestic violence situation is involved.
• Prohibit custody or parenting time for certain parents of children who are conceived as the result of a sexual assault case.
The bills now move back to the House, where they originated and received nearly unanimous approval last year, for concurrence in changes made by the Senate.
That action is expected to take place this week.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact any of the numerous resources available to get help.
Rob Herbstreith is a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police. If you have questions, email him at TrooperRob53@yahoo.com, or call (269) 683-4411.