Below you will find a section by section summary of S.2234, An act relative to domestic violence, written by the conference committee staff.
SECTION 1. Amends the municipal police training committee curriculum to include specific training on lethality factors and information sharing in cases of domestic and sexual violence. Requires the training committee to include domestic and sexual violence training as part of in-service training, which was previously optional.
SECTION 2, 3, 30, 40 & 48. Increases information available to law enforcement and the courts provided through the domestic violence record keeping system and an individual’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI).
SECTION 4. Establishes state and local domestic fatality review teams to examine the causes and incidence of domestic violence fatalities and the circumstances surrounding them. The state team is housed within EOPPS and acts as a steering committee, providing model protocols, rules and training to the local review teams, reviewing the local teams’ reports, and providing an annual report to the governor and legislature. The local review teams are led by district attorneys and investigate particular fatalities randomly assigned to them by the state team.
SECTION 5. Directs the MA District Attorneys’ Association to provide training, at least once every two years, on domestic and sexual violence.
SECTION 6 & 43. Establishes the Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Fund, to be administered by the department of public health for innovative practices to prevent domestic and sexual violence and provide assistance to victims.
SECTION 7 & 8. Increases confidentiality protections for DV victims by prohibiting information regarding DV complaints and arrests from being included in daily police records and logs, which are public record. Entries related to DV will be kept in a separate log, as reports of rape and sexual assault are currently maintained.
SECTION 9. Directs various health care related boards of registration (e.g. medicine, nursing, and social workers) to develop and administer standards for licensure that require training and education on domestic and sexual violence.
SECTIONS 10 & 11. Establishes employment leave for domestic violence victims, providing up to 15 days of leave within a year for employees to address issues related to domestic violence, including obtaining medical attention, accessing the courts, and receiving counseling and support services, and provides a private right of action for employees against an employer who violates the DV leave laws.
SECTIONS 12 & 13. Allows district and municipal courts to modify existing support and custody orders from the probate and family court, for a limited duration of 30 days. The probate and family court that issued the original order receives immediate notice of the modification and retains final jurisdiction.
SECTION 14. Requires law enforcement agencies to provide information on batterer’s intervention to defendants when serving them with a c. 209A restraining order.
SECTION 15. Requires a defendant to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program as a condition of a continuance without a finding for a restraining order violation.
SECTION 16 & 17. Prohibits the court from granting visitation rights to a parent convicted of rape, unless the child is old enough to assent to the visitation and that assent is determined to be in the best interests of the child.
SECTION 18. Requires the chief justice of the trial court to provide biannual domestic and sexual violence training to trial court personnel, which specifically includes training on lethality factors, information sharing, and the availability of domestic and sexual violence support services.
SECTION 19. Establishes concurrent jurisdiction of district and superior courts for the crimes of strangulation and kidnapping.
SECTIONS 20, 21 & 22. Creates a new, specific, DV victim and witness assessment for violations of protective orders or crimes involving abuse. Amends the option to waive assessments to allow for structured payment and, in DV specific cases, to provide the alternative of community service.
SECTION 23. Creates the first offense of domestic assault and battery and requires violators to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program.
SECTION 24. Creates the specific crimes of strangulation and suffocation, with increased penalties for strangulation and suffocation in special circumstances.
SECTION 25. Assures that a person who currently has a warrant out for their arrest from another state, who is then arrested in the Commonwealth for a separate crime, will be subject to the regular bail processes and conditions of the Commonwealth, which would include dangerousness hearings for crimes involving physical force or abuse.
SECTIONS 26 – 28, 31 & 32. Requires, for any DV offense, a 6 hour delay to admit a person to bail and consideration of safety factors (similar to the factors used in a dangerous evaluation) before the person arrested may be admitted to bail or personal recognizance. Information on batterer’s intervention programs must also be given to anyone charged with a DV offense, prior to admitting them to bail. Reasonable efforts to alert the victim will also be made before the person arrested is released.
SECTION 29. Prohibits the use of accord and satisfaction agreements in cases involving DV.
SECTIONS 33 – 38. Amends the dangerousness hearing statute to: (1) increase the allowable pre-trial detention from 90 days to 120 days, (2) require a defendant make a good faith showing in order to summons an alleged victim or a member of the victim’s family as a witness at the dangerousness hearing, (3) direct judges to consider hearsay evidence at a dangerousness hearing, (4) allow the judge, Commonwealth, or defendant to reopen a dangerousness hearing at any time if there is new information or a change in circumstances, (5) require judges to issue written victim safety determinations in all cases involving DV offenses, and (6) require the inclusion of information on dangerousness hearings in a person’s criminal record and in the domestic violence record keeping system.
SECTION 39. Allows for bail revocation and detention upon the violation of any condition of release on personal recognizance.
SECTION 41. Requires various law enforcement agencies and service providers to work together to develop and implement, subject to appropriation, a program for disseminating information on DV prevention services to victims, defendants, and parties subject to various protective orders.
SECTION 42. Requires DESE to develop materials on DV and teen dating violence to distribute to high school students as part of the current health curriculum on safe and healthy relationships.
SECTION 47. Establishes a special commission to examine housing and shelter options available to victims of domestic and sexual violence, with findings due to the legislature no later than December 31, 2015.
SECTION 49. Requires the executive office of public safety and security, in conjunction with the district attorneys, to file a report on domestic violence crime statistics in the Commonwealth.
SECTIONS 50 & 51. Effective Dates
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger