“Aisha’s law” on domestic violence rejected by committee

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A bill named after a Shaker Heights woman who lost her life to domestic violence was approved by a House committee on Thursday.

Aisha’s law was passed by the House Criminal Justice Committee after receiving even more testimony about its importance, and despite arguments against it by a criminal defense association.

The bill is named after Aisha Fraser, who was killed by the father of her children, Lance Mason, a former state lawmaker.

“We are one step closer to honoring the life and light of Aisha, and so many others,” said Bill Cosponsor State Representative Janine Boyd of D-Cleveland Heights. , in a press release after the adoption of the bill in committee.

House Bill 3 would expand the legal definition of domestic violence to include strangulation and require more extensive rules and procedures for law enforcement officers, including the implementation of a ” lethality assessment ”when responding to a domestic violence situation.

It would also expand the offense of “aggravated murder” to include “willfully causing the death of another person when the victim was a member of the offender’s family or household” or where the accused has already been convicted of a crime. domestic violence crime, as the bill reads. .

Committee members on Thursday amended the bill to define the domestic violence strangulation provision as “knowingly causing the normal breathing or blood flow of a family or household member.”

In previous versions of the bill, language had specified that the offense was “recklessly” interfering with normal breathing.

Under the new strangulation rules, law enforcement will have to inform victims of suspected strangulation and the dangers, visible and invisible, of being strangled.

Strangulation was an important goal of the bill, which has been introduced in several general assemblies, with law enforcement and domestic violence survivors stressing that physical trauma from strangulation often does not appear. in external medical examinations or photographs after incidents.

In the bill, the state would pay $ 150,000 to the Police Officers’ Training Academy to train police officers in the proper response to domestic violence calls.

Several other supporters of the bill spoke out on Thursday, including two sexual assault and forensic nurse examiners who said the bill was important to all patients they need to assess and to the forces of. the order they work with after traumatic incidents.

“If I had to accelerate on the freeway and it never had any consequences, would I ever stop doing it? Melisa Miner, of the International Association of Forensic Nurses, asked the committee. “You’re in a position where you can do something about it. “

The only opposition the committee heard before approving the bill was from the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Blaise Katter, the association’s public policy chair, said complicating the criminal justice process by adding another category of aggravated murder would only make the process more difficult.

“We just want to make sure that the wording of the bill correlates with getting these offenders while not being too broad to expose well beyond what is intended,” Katter said.

Due to the appropriations included in the bill, the rules of the House dictate that the bill must now return to the Rules and References Committee, which will send it to the House Finance Committee for consideration.

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