An Act relative to domestic violence signed into law on August 8, 2014, establishes new criminal offenses related to domestic violence, creates new legal protections and imposes training requirements for judges and court personnel became effective August 8, 2014.
The key points of the bill include:
- creates 1st offense of domestic assault and battery, punishable by up to 2.5 years in the county House of Corrections or up to a $5,000 fine, or both
- requires employers with 50 or more employees to allow up to 15 days of leave a year if the employee, or a family member of the employee is a victim of "abusive behavior" (defined as domestic violence, criminal stalking, or sexual assault) and the employee is using the leave to address related issues such as obtaining medical attention or attending court hearings
- creates new charges for strangulation and suffocation, which would be punishable by up to 5 years in state prison or 2.5 years in the county House of Corrections, or up to a $5,000 fine, or both by fine and imprisonment. Penalties for strangulation would increase if special circumstances are involved, such as if the victim is pregnant or has received a restraining order against the perpetrator
- delays bail for domestic violence offenders by six hours, allowing victims an opportunity to find a safe place and get the necessary help
- entitles employees who have been retaliated against for seeking leave, or otherwise exercising his or her rights under the law to bring a private civil action seeking injunctive relief, lost wages and benefits, and other damages against the employer
- empowers the Attorney General's Office to enforce the law
Contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar to protect and enforce your rights under the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Law.