Today, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill jointly sponsored by State Representative Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) that increases penalties for strangulation in domestic violence situations.
House Bill 362 expands the offense of domestic violence to include strangulation and makes the first violation of this offense a third degree felony, while requiring a mandatory prison term. The legislation is in response to domestic violence incidents involving strangulation, which is strongly linked to an increased risk of homicide in future domestic violence cases.
“By changing strangulation from a misdemeanor to a felony, we are creating a cooling off period between a first incident and the possibility of a second,” Kunze said. “This cooling off period would allow victims to seek legal or medical assistance that could provide valuable resources to leave a potentially dangerous relationship. I am happy to see Ohio become the 39th state to pass this kind of legislation.”
Rep. Kunze worked with domestic violence advocates, prosecutors and representatives from the martial arts community to carefully define what constitutes strangulation in the bill. As a result, House Bill 362 states that no person shall knowingly impede another
person’s normal breathing or circulation by applying pressure to that person’s throat or neck.
During committee testimony, Amy Webber and Nicole Miller shared the story of their sister, Monica, who was a victim of strangling by her husband. Her husband only served 11 days in jail on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. Nine months later, Monica
was stabbed multiple times and died the following month.
The legislation joins other efforts by the Ohio House to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence through various reforms in Ohio law. This includes House Bill 359, which establishes an Address Confidentiality Program for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Ohio.
HB 362 passed the Ohio House with unanimous support and now goes to the Senate for further consideration.