In a clear case of domestic violence in New Hampshire last year, a man strangled his wife, rendering her almost unconscious. She went to the hospital and her husband went to jail.
Released quickly on a $30 – yes, only $30 — bond, and defying a protection order, he waited until his wife was out of the hospital, then shot and killed her when she went home to gather some things.
How could this have happened? Why was the bond so low? The answer is that under New Hampshire law, non-fatal strangulation is a crime of simple assault, punishable only as a misdemeanor.
Broadly, domestic abuse is defined as physical and/or emotional violence deliberately perpetrated on a family member or on people intimate with each other. The laws of each state differ in the matter, and some are so complex that sometimes an issue of domestic violence that should be included in the definition is excluded. Such was the situation in the crime described above.
Now, because of this case, a new law will likely soon be on the books, making non-fatal strangulation in New Hampshire a second-degree assault (a class B felony) punishable by 3-1/2 to 7 years in prison.
If passed, New Hampshire will be one of 22 states recognizing it as a felony. Had this law been in force at the time of the woman's initial attack, her husband would not have been able to post bond so quickly, if at all.
Domestic Violence Statistics
It is a difficult image to erase once you have seen someone bearing bumps, bruises, cuts, or worse from domestic violence. Yet domestic abuse is astonishingly common. One in every four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life.
According to a recent article released by the N. H. Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence, in a given day nearly 300 domestic violence victims in New Hampshire can require shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and children's support groups.
The Family Violence Prevention Fund recently issued the following statistics:
- 84% of spousal abuse victims are woman, as are 86% of victims of dating partner abuse.
- In the U.S., more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth.
- Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of non-fatal intimate partner violence.
Domestic violence and abuse are very emotional issues for the victim and the accused. Once friends and family members become involved, it is sometimes impossible to ferret out the truth.
If you have been accused of committing domestic violence, consult immediately with a domestic violence lawyer. Only an experienced and knowledgeable attorney will be able to help you prove your case.