Choking Laws: Many States Have Separate Criminal Laws for Strangulation

by dave on June 30, 2010

in Assault, Criminal Justice

Domestic violence laws vary dramatically from state to state. All of the laws are designed to keep the alleged victims safe and to prevent further assaults. As this article from USA Today shows, many states now have a separate law on the books strictly to cover choking in regards to domestic violence.

Some states have a criminal charge called “domestic assault” while in others, suspects are charged with a basic assault charge but face potential additional penalties. Currently, however, 29 states have some sort of strangulation law on the books, laws that are most often applied in domestic situations.

Choking is largely a crime of passion, a crime that takes place between two people within a close relationship, a domestic relationship. According to the Journal of Emergency Medicine, 43% of women killed in domestic assaults had been choked by their partner’s in the year preceding their death.

This means choking is an indicator that something more serious is coming, potentially murder. This is the motivating factor for lawmakers in many states to ensure that people charged with choking face a serious penalty. They want to stop the cycle of violence before someone is killed.

Most of these choking laws classify the offense as a felony, carrying with it many potential years in prison. In some states, however, choking is still prosecuted as a misdemeanor. New York is the latest state to make the change with the felony choking bill awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Domestic violence cases are emotionally charged and difficult criminal cases. They often involve a still-married couple and sometimes a victim who doesn’t wish their partner any sort of trouble. Unfortunately for the defendant, however, the prosecutor doesn’t always need the victim’s cooperation to make a domestic violence case stick.

If you are accused of a domestic assault, you are at risk of serious criminal penalties, including prison. Of course, just because you are charged does not mean you are guilty. But the stakes are high, and when it seems like no one is on your side, you need an aggressive and experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.


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