Bill would toughen protective order law

January 30, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Physically and emotionally abused woman often seek protective court orders in an effort to keep their abusers at safe distances, but the results can be tragic.

In some cases, the woman is murdered. Afterward, her killer can argue that the crime was not premeditated, but was the result of "raw emotion," thus avoiding a first-degree murder conviction, said Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington.

To put more teeth in protective orders, Poole is introducing legislation that would require first-degree murder charges to be filed in those cases in which people protected by orders are murdered by the people from whom they sought protection.


"Hopefully, it will give some people pause, and maybe give just a little more protection to the women and children who need it," he said.

Poole's bill also would make the violation of a protective order an "aggravating circumstance" that a jury must consider in determining a sentence.

"That sounds great," said Vicki Sadehvandi, executive director of Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused (CASA).

Although protective orders often are effective, women need to understand that they are at great, if not greater, risk after being granted the court order, she said.

In recent years, several women in the Tri-State area have died at the hands of men who were under protective orders to stay away from them.

Poole said even if his legislation were approved, protective orders still would have limited power. But the consequences might cause some abusers to think twice, he said.

"Maybe it would make some people who would otherwise violate the order stop and think," Poole said.

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