HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure today that would classify cases of strangulation as crimes of violence so those offenses can be considered in sentencing for subsequent crimes and in child custody proceedings, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Judy Ward (R-30).
The General Assembly approved a law in 2016 that created the criminal offense of strangulation. Senate Bill 275 would fully integrate that offense in Pennsylvania’s laws to ensure strangulation is classified in the same way as other similar violent crimes.
Ward said the bill was especially important to protect victims of domestic violence. Nearly half of all domestic violence homicide victims had previously experienced at least one episode of attempted strangulation, and 47 percent of female domestic violence victims report being choked.
“The statistics regarding strangulation are chilling. The shocking number of cases of this crime highlight the need for lawmakers to make sure perpetrators are held accountable and are unable to continue to terrorize their victims,” Ward said. “There should be no doubt that this offense is a violent crime that needs to be taken extremely seriously, and I am thankful we are moving closer to that goal.”
The measure is supported by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
The bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Cheryl Schriner (717) 787-5490