A bill that could potentially save the lives of domestic violence victims has won approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee and is headed to the full Senate for a vote. Senate Bill 1491, by Senator Bryce Marlatt said his legislation deals with how many prior convictions of domestic violence are required to establish a pattern of physical abuse.
“Under current law, an individual would have to be convicted of domestic violence three times in 12 months before the legal definition of a pattern of physical abuse is met,” said Marlatt, R-Woodward. “But this is a crime that escalates. The potential for death increases exponentially with every incident. That fourth time may be the last time it happens, because it could be a domestic homicide. We need to do something to stop domestic violence offenders sooner, and that’s what my bill would do.”
Under Marlatt’s legislation, two convictions would establish a pattern of physical abuse, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both. As amended in committee, the legislation would remove the stipulation that the incidents must have taken place within the previous 12 months.
“The numbers show us this is a terrible problem. Oklahoma is ranked third in the nation for women killed by men in domestic violence situations. One-third of all women murdered in our state are killed by their husbands. Forty-one percent of all homicides in Oklahoma are linked to domestic violence,” Marlatt said. “One third of all police time is spent responding to domestic violence calls. Strengthening this law will help Oklahoma better address the crime of domestic violence.”