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Rep. Boyd testifies on bill to address high-risk and lethal domestic violence

September 17, 2020
Janine R. Boyd News

COLUMBUS– State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today gave sponsor testimony before the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee on House Bill (HB) 3 to address high-risk and lethal domestic violence.

“Today, I had the honor of sharing my sponsor testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee for Aisha’s Law. This bill levels the playing field by providing survivors of high-risk and lethal domestic violence cases with a continuum of strengthened protection, an advocate in their corner, and it reforms how law-enforcement and our courts respond to high-risk domestic violence situations,” said Rep. Boyd.

“I was asked once if I thought that because Aisha’s murderer had formerly been a judge and a state legislator if that would make it harder to pass Aisha’s Law. My response then resounds in me today, and that is, no one is above the law. His previous titles remain irrelevant. He was a person who tortured his children by brutalizing their mother in front of them. He ultimately murdered her leaving them without a mother or father, and leaving her parents and entire community devastated and heartbroken. No title should be a cover to abuse or harm another person. If Aisha had access to this continuum of strengthened protections, I believe she would still be with us today fighting to give other survivors of domestic violence a voice. But the painful reality is that she is not here, so this bill represents her voice urging us to pass Aisha’s Law and save lives.”

This legislation would:

  • On behalf of and with the consent of a domestic violence victim, law enforcement can request an emergency protection order from a judicial officer during any time outside of the court’s normal business hours. The request may be made orally or in writing based on the law enforcement officer’s sworn statement that the victim or the victim’s child is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence based on the officer’s observation and an allegation of recent domestic violence.
  • The bill creates a new temporary emergency protection order that an individual can request outside of the courts normal business hours.
  • The Ohio Attorney General must adopt rules to require every peace officer and trooper who handles domestic violence complaints to complete biennial professional training that includes, among other items, the referral of high risk victims to a local or regional domestic violence advocacy service.
  • Each police agency must adopt rules and procedures for law enforcement officers to screen victims of domestic violence or violating a protection order using an evidence-based lethality assessment screening tool to determine if the case should be referred to local or regional domestic violence advocacy services. The screening results must be provided to the court and prosecuting attorney, and must be considered in setting bail and in sentencing.
  • It expands the definition of “domestic violence” to include strangulation.
  • Law enforcement officers are required to provide the following information to victims of an alleged strangulation with the following warning: “I have a duty to warn you that strangulation is serious and can cause internal injuries, brain damage, and delayed health consequences such as strokes, thyroid issues, miscarriage, and death. Research shows that if you are strangled one time, you are more likely to be killed by your partner. I strongly encourage you to seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department and to ask for support from an advocate.”
  • The bill adds domestic violence circumstances to the offense of aggravated murder.
  • The bill requests the Ohio Supreme Court to review the Ohio Rules of Evidence to consider how the Rules may better aid victims of domestic violence without diminishing the fundamental fairness to alleged perpetrators of domestic violence.
  • The bill creates the Domestic Violence Drop Policy Study Committee, with ten members appointed by the House Speaker and Minority Leader. The purpose of the committee is to examine policies to protect domestic violence victims throughout the judicial process.
  • The bill encourages prosecuting attorneys in uncodified language, to do the following in domestic violence cases: consider the totality of the circumstances, review all case evidence, and resist voluntary dismissal solely based on the victim’s wishes, unless justice demands otherwise.
  • The bill allocates $150,000 to the Police Officers’ Training Academy Fee for the purpose of training police officers how to respond to domestic violence calls

The bill now awaits further hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee.