Blethen Maine News Service reports that the new DV Law distinguishes “domestic violence assault,” “domestic violence criminal threatening,” “domestic violence terrorizing,” “domestic violence stalking,” and “domestic violence reckless conduct” from offenses that are similar but do not occur in a household.
The domestic violence crimes will be categorized as Class D offenses, for which violators may be imprisoned for up to a year. However, a crucial part of the law stipulates that the crimes become more serious Class C offenses if committed more than once by the same person, or by someone who has been served with a protection order within the previous three years.Repeat offenders may face up to five years in prison.
Lobbyists pushed for a similar law 10 years ago, but it languished in the Legislature due to lack of support. This year’s bill was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives, and by at least two-thirds of the Senate.
Lois Reckitt, executive director of Family Crisis Services, attributed the dramatic shift to the issue’s higher visibility. Of Maine’s 464 homicides from 1987 through 2006, 213 related to domestic violence, according to state officials.