More Stringent Domestic Violence Laws Proposed In Senate Bills

March 10, 2015

Two bills planned to be introduced to the Florida State Senate would close loopholes in Florida law allowing domestic violence perpetrators harass their victims. State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is planning to sponsor both bills in the upcoming legislative session. One bill, Senate Bill 342, would prevent those arrested for domestic violence from harassing their victims from jail. The other, Senate Bill 1286, would criminalize the act of tampering with electronic monitoring devices issued to abusers in civil cases.

Senate Bill 342

One bill, SB 342, would address the period during which a judge’s no contact order, which is a condition of pretrial release, is effective. The bill would make a no contact order effective immediately, rather than waiting until the perpetrator posts bond and is released from jail. The order would be effective for the duration of the pretrial release, or until modified by the court.

Current law says that, as a condition of pretrial release, a domestic violence defendant must refrain from contacting the victim, or other individuals named in the order. However, such orders currently do not come into effect until the perpetrator is released from jail. Thus, domestic abusers may harass their victims before being released, by calling them from jail. They may even pressure their victims to drop the charges against them.

The bill would prohibit all contact with either the victim or with any other person named in the no contact order, whether oral or written; whether in person, telephonically, electronically, or in any other manner; and whether directly or indirectly, through a third party. Additionally, the bill would prohibit the perpetrator from:

  • Having physical contact with victim or with the victim’s property,
  • Being within five hundred feet of the victim’s residence, even if the defendant and victim share the residence, or
  • Being within five hundred feet of the victim’s workplace or car, or any other named place that the victim frequents.

Senate Bill 1286

The other bill, SB 1286, would make it a third degree felony to remove or tamper with an electronic monitoring device that is being used to monitor someone who is:

  • On house arrest,
  • Wearing the device as a condition of bond or pretrial release, or
  • Wearing the device as a result of a protective injunction for domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, dating violence, or stalking.

It would also be a felony to ask another person to remove or tamper with the device.

According to Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House, Orange County’s domestic violence shelter, the main purpose of the devices is to serve as an “early warning system” to the victims, alerting them to the fact that the abuser has either entered a prohibited area or has tampered with the device. Currently, it is not a crime to tamper with or cut off such a device if it has been issued in a civil, rather than a criminal, case.

Domestic violence is a serious crime, and a conviction can have severe consequences. If you have been charged with or arrested for domestic violence, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.