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Illinois law increases penalty for domestic violence


Illinois residents are probably aware that domestic violence is a national problem. But they may be surprised to learn that domestic violence is the leading cause of injuries to women in the United States. To address the problem, a bill recently signed into law in Illinois will increase the penalties for domestic violence beginning January 1st.

Domestic Violence in Illinois is currently a misdemeanor in most cases, regardless of whether the defendant has prior convictions for the same offense. The bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn will make an incident of domestic violence a felony if the person charged has a previous conviction for the same crime. Under the new law someone with four or more convictions could receive up to a 14-year sentence. One hopes that the increased penalties will send a message to abusers that their conduct will not be tolerated.

A related bill that addresses teen dating violence has also been signed into law. Under the new law school boards will be obligated to adopt policies on dating violence involving teens. The bill is important because about 20 percent of teenage girls have reported being physically or sexually assaulted by someone they have dated. Schools will be required to educate students on dating violence and have a procedure in place for an employee who becomes aware of a violent relationship.

Someone experiencing domestic violence may be wondering what action they can take to stop the violence. Someone who is a victim of domestic violence may petition a judge for a restraining order against the abuser. A restraining order requires that the abuser stay away from the victim, the victim's work or school and other places where the victim regularly spends time.

Source: My Journal Courier, "Editorial: New domestic violence laws good start," August 8 2013

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