Ohio Lawmakers Consider Making Strangulation a Felony

Posted On: January 30th, 2017 by Bradley J. Groene

The clear connection between choking and fatal domestic violence is why Ohio lawmakers are attempting to make non-lethal strangulation a felony. House Bill 362 would make strangulation a domestic violence offense automatically charged as a third-degree felony. If abusers can be charged and punished with years in prison, the victims of their crimes have a chance to receive help and move on to safer and healthier situations. Right now, non-lethal strangulation is only a misdemeanor. While the motives behind this proposed bill are clear, it would also make the stakes for falsely accused defendants much higher.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should contact the criminal defense attorneys of Luftman, Heck & Associates at (513) 338-1890 right away. We will compassionately listen to your side of the story and help you build a strong defense to allegations.

Strangulation’s Connection to Lethal Domestic Violence

It is, unfortunately, well-known among domestic and sexual abuse victims and advocates that strangulation is a common form of violence within abusive relationships and a precursor to more extreme violence, injury, and death. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports strangulation is not only a significant predictor of future fatal violence, but it is also one of the most lethal means of domestic abuse.

When a partner strangles, chokes, or in any way cuts off an individual’s air supply, that individual is seven times more likely to be killed by their partner. By making strangulation a felony offense punishable by years in jail, Ohio lawmakers are directly tackling the issue of domestic violence and seeking to better protect victims.

House Bill 362

House Bill 362 was introduced into the Ohio House in October 2015. HB 362 prohibits impeding the breath or circulation of another person and charges this offense as a third-degree felony. It would revise section 2919.25 of Ohio’s Revised Code to include a specific provision banning blocking the nose or mouth or applying pressure to the throat or neck of a family or household member.

As a third-degree felony, judges would have to impose a mandatory prison sentence of six months or up to five years in prison. The bill also adds that if the defendant has previously been convicted or pleaded guilty to strangulation, or of two or more violent offenses, then the current offense will be charged as a second-degree felony, punishable by one to eight years in prison.

HB 362 passed the House in May 2016 with zero nays and as of September of last year, was referred to the Senate Committee for criminal Justice. If this bill passes the Senate and becomes law, Ohio would join 38 other states that already treat strangulation as a felony crime.

Ohio’s Current Domestic Violence Law

As of right now, Ohio may punish domestic violence as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the defendant’s actions, whether they caused injury, and whether the defendant has any previous domestic violence or violence crime convictions. The threat of domestic violence is generally charged as a fourth-degree misdemeanor. A domestic violence charge resulting from an action that caused the victim harm is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, if the defendant has a prior conviction or knew the victim was pregnant, then a threat is raised to a first-, second-, or third-degree misdemeanor and harmful domestic violence is raised to a third-, fourth-, or fifth-degree felony.

Contact a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with strangulation or any other domestic violence crime, you should contact a Cincinnati criminal defense attorney of Luftman, Heck & Associates right away. We can help you avoid a violent crime on your criminal record, even if the offense is a misdemeanor. A domestic violence conviction can severely affect your education, career, and personal reputation.

Call us today at (513) 338-1890 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.