Legislation that changes the legal definition of “pattern of physical abuse” has been signed into law. Senate Bill 1491, also known as Kristin’s Law, authored by Sen. Bryce Marlatt and Rep. Scott Biggs, was approved by Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday. Marlatt said the change will enable tougher penalties to be handed down sooner—a change that could help save lives.
“Studies of cases right here in Oklahoma show that in the vast majority of domestic violence cases that ended in homicide there was prior evidence of domestic abuse,” said Marlatt, R-Woodward. “Domestic violence tends to escalate. The more incidents that happen, the more dangerous the situation becomes. By applying stronger penalties sooner, hopefully we can stop some of these offenders before it’s too late. I appreciate the tremendous bipartisan support in both chambers and am grateful to Governor Fallin for signing this bill into law.”
Under current law, there must be three or more separate incidences of domestic abuse within the previous twelve months. Kristin’s Law would reduce that by requiring two separate incidents of domestic abuse to establish that pattern, and it would no longer be required that the two incidents must have happened in the previous year. If that pattern is established, conviction carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of reducing domestic violence,” said Biggs, R-Chickasha, a former prosecutor. “Spouses often have little recourse when the person who is supposed to be in their corner is instead their victimizer. I think this legislation will help us to intervene more quickly and increase the protection of domestic violence victims. I thank Governor Fallin for her support of this legislation.”
Kristin’s Law will become effective November 1, 2016.