State Senate approves and sends to Governor Haslam legislation strengthening penalties against repeat domestic violence offenders

(NASHVILLE, TN), April 25, 2012 — Legislation which strengthens penalties against those convicted of domestic violence was approved on final consideration today, sending the bill to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.  The “Repeat Domestic Violence Offender” bill, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Vice-Chairman Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) creates a new offense for repeat domestic violence offenders prescribes mandatory jail time and enhanced fines for those who have committed serious bodily injury.

“Tennessee is ranked second in the nation in domestic violence and is fifth in the number of women murdered by men as a result of domestic violence,” said Senator Overbey.  “This legislation will help curb this despicable and ugly crime.” 

Senate Bill 2251 provides at least 30 days in jail and a fine ranging from $350 to $3,500 for those convicted of a second offense for domestic violence when bodily injury occurs.  Upon third or a subsequent conviction, the mandatory jail time would increase to 90 days and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.  In counting prior convictions, the bill provides for a ten-year look back provision for domestic violence due to serious bodily injury similar to the one used in the state’s drunk driving law.

Overbey said the bill is part of a public safety package presented to the legislature by  Governor Bill Haslam.  It was recommended by a Public Safety Subcabinet Working Group composed of more than 10 government agencies which held meetings with over 300 leaders in law enforcement.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who is prime sponsor of the legislation, commented that crime is down in Tennessee, but domestic violence is not. “Fifty-two percent of violent crimes reported are due to domestic violence,” he said. “I commend Governor Haslam for bringing it to the General Assembly and thank Senator Overbey for shepherding it through this year.”  

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