Three cheers for new DV laws

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2000

The State of Alabama has recently passed three new laws that will go into effect this summer that will provide greater protection for victims of domestic violence and their children throughout the state.

The laws address a number of issues related to domestic violence including a new crime category for intimate partner abuse, a holding period in jail for arrested abusers and medical and property insurance protection for victims of abuse.

Alabama was the twenty-sixth state in the nation to pass legislation naming domestic violence as a separate crime under the criminal code, and the new law defines misdemeanor and felony domestic crimes, stiffens penalties for repeat offenders and doubles the sentences of abusers who also violate a victim's protection from abuse order.

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In the past, domestic violence crimes were charged under general assault and harassment laws, and prosecuted as such. The new law recognizes that domestic violence is a crime that needs to be identified to give a clear message to abusers that battering one's partner is a crime and is punishable by the state, not the victim.

Spousal and partner abuse is a growing problem within our community and others like it throughout the state. We applaud the state for its efforts to protect victims of abuse, and urge those in the community to report all crimes of violence in the interest of everyone's protection.