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Change in Georgia strangulation law increased punishments

A Georgia law that went into effect on July 1 made "strangulation assault" a felony. According to the report, this change came about after prompting by the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia.

In the past, police officers often did not recognize strangulation cases when a death was not involved. If this type of assault was recognized, the incident was tried under aggravated assault statutes. By making strangulation assault a separate felony, a conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of three years with the maximum being 20 years. A district attorney stated that, by making this change, prosecutors are better able to help people before a death occurs. However, the police officers who respond to the scene must know what to look for and know how to react appropriately. One issue is that strangulation may not show any physical signs.

The change in the law also changes bonding for defendants in these types of domestic violence cases. First, the bonding must take place in front of a judge, meaning that those who are taken into custody over the weekend must wait till Monday to have their bond hearing. The accused individuals are restricted from having any sort of contact with the person they were accused of strangling.

When someone has been assaulted or needs protection against a situation involving domestic violence, an attorney may be able to help. In addition to helping their client file for a restraining order, the attorney may also be able to help them document any contact that their client has with the defendant in order to prove that there is a real threat. Finally, if the client must appear in court to testify, the attorney may be able to help provide support.

Source: Savannahnow.com, "New strangulation rule helping Savannah prosecutors in domestic violence cases", Jan Skutch, August 17, 2014

Source: Savannahnow.com, "New strangulation rule helping Savannah prosecutors in domestic violence cases", Jan Skutch, August 17, 2014

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