Friday, June 25, 2010

States hope to curb domestic murders by targeting choking

More and more states are charging those who choke victims in domestic violence situations with felonies. According to DV advocates and studies, people who choke their"partners" are more likely to go on to kill or seriously injure them in future domestic attacks. The latest states to pass laws targeting DV strangulations are Delaware and New Hampshire. In Delaware, choking a partner carries up to 5 years imprisonment and is always a felony. Delaware state troopers analyzed cases and found that half of choking cases were charges as misdemeanors, eventually leading them to lobby for the strenghtened law.

New Hampshire passed its law after Melissa Cantin Charbonneau, 29, a mother and nurse, was killed by her husband two days after he tried to strangle her. Jonathan Charbonneau, 32, shot and killed her in October. He also shot his father-in-law and then killed himself, a report by the state attorney general found. He was out on $30 bail after being charged with a misdemeanor for throwing her down a flight of stairs and trying to strangle her.

John Cantin, the victim's father, said that his daughter would still be alive if her "husband" had been charged with felony strangulation. "I'm doing this for my daughter. I don't believe this bill will stop the person doing the choking, but at least when it does happen and they are arrested, they are put away."

In New York, Democratic State Sen. Eric Schneiderman introduced a strangulation bill after chairing a commitee that investigated a state senator for domestic abuse. During the hearings, he learned there was no penalty for strangulation, even though women who were choked have a higher risk of being killed by their partner. "I'm just sorry it took us so long in New York state to do this," he says. "I think this will save a lot of lives."

A 2008 study in the Journal of Emergency Medicine found 43% of women who were murdered in domestic assaults and 45% who were victims of attempted murder had been choked in the past year by their male partners.

New York's strangulation bill, passed by its legislature, is on its way to Governor David Patterson's desk.

No comments: