(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Major legislation sponsored by Senator Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) to help victims of strangulation, a crime often involved in domestic violence, is among 171 new laws set to take effect in Tennessee on Wednesday. The new law redefines strangulation to include: “intentionally or knowingly impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to the throat or neck or by blocking the nose and mouth of another person, regardless of whether that conduct results in any visible injury or whether the person has any intent to kill or protractedly injure the victim.”
“Currently the definition of strangulation requires the act must be ‘intentional,’ which is a higher standard of proof,” said Senator Massey. “By adding ‘knowingly’ it puts the definition of strangulation more in line with similar criminal acts to protect victims of domestic violence. Present law also requires a visible injury in cases of strangulation. In some cases, visible injury cannot be seen unless the victim dies and an autopsy is performed and does not account for cases in which the victim escaped.”
Massey said strangulation victims are seven times more likely to become victims of homicide and that 50 percent of all domestic violence homicide victims are strangled at least once before they are murdered.
Massey is also the sponsor of two other bills set for enactment on July 1 protecting children, including a new law which adds to the residential and work restrictions for sexual offenders to prohibit them from being alone with a minor in addition to being prohibited from residing with a minor.
The other new law requires parents whose children have been removed from their care due to drug abuse to demonstrate a commitment to responsible parenting before they can regain custody. Before the child can be returned the parent must not be the subject of a criminal investigation for at least 90 days, resolve any former and pending investigations by child protective services to the satisfaction of the court, and pass two consecutive drug screens.
“I am very pleased that these new laws are set for enactment and believe they will make a difference in protecting some of our state’s most vulnerable victims from being harmed,” Massey concluded.