AG Gansler Hails Signing of Bill Protecting Child Victims of Domestic Violence
Long-overdue law will give judges discretion to increase sentence if crime committed in the presence of a child
Baltimore, MD (April 14, 2014) - As one of the leading voices behind the effort to adopt legislation recognizing the lifelong effect domestic violence has on children who witness it, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today hailed the signing of this long-overdue law.
"This law is an important step towards breaking the cycle of violence in our communities that scars children and too often follows them through life," said Attorney General Gansler. "It further acknowledges that children are the unseen, but very real victims of domestic violence. We must continue to direct our efforts toward eliminating domestic violence from our society and breaking the cycle of violence that children too often experience at an early age."
The law, which takes effect October 1, will allow judges to enhance sentences by up to five years for those who commit acts of domestic violence in the presence of a child. The language of the bill that was signed into law mirrored legislation sponsored again this year by Delegate Luiz Simmons and championed by Attorney General Gansler, who made it a part of his priority legislative agenda for 2014.
Governor O'Malley also signed two other domestic violence-related bills today supported by Attorney General Gansler, who chairs the Governor's Family Violence Council. One reduces the burden of proof for domestic violence victims when asking a judge to issue a protective order against an alleged abuser. The other adds second-degree assault to the list of crimes in which a victim can seek a permanent final protective order against the alleged abuser.