The state Senate passed legislation Senate Bill 70 to address non-fatal strangulation.
“The crime does not require a particular level of injury, but the person who commits the crime does so by impeding and restriction the breathing or blood flow of another person through applying pressure to their throat, neck or torso and blocking the nose or mouth,” said sponsor Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington. “If the act of strangulation results in an injury which meets the elements of another crime, the crime with the highest penalty would apply.”
SB 70 would also amend the legal definitions of domestic violence and abuse, and dating violence and abuse, to include strangulation.
“This would mean that people seeking protective orders, who have been strangled, could more effectively prove the need for this protective order,” Kerr said.
She said 38 states already have laws specifically criminalizing strangulation.
Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, explained why she voted against SB 70. She said the bill would define strangulation so broadly that it could be applied to situations other than domestic violence.
“It is going to have a lot of unintended consequences in the field,” said Webb, a lawyer by trade. “The language is such that if I slap you on the torso ... impeding your breathing, I can be charged with a felony.”
After SB 70 passed by a 31-4 vote, Kerr acknowledged strangulation survivor Nancy Ross-Stallings who was sitting in the gallery. The Danville woman testified about her attack last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kerr said Ross-Stallings went public about her attack because she wanted to give other victims of this type of violence chances she wasn’t afforded.
“Senate Bill 70 ... will give law enforcement and the victims additional tools to deal with their assailants,” Kerr said.
SB 70 passed by a 31-4 vote. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.