The Senate gave unanimous approval to House Bill 2396, by Sen. Kim David and Rep. Wade Rousselot, to better protect victims of domestic violence by increasing protective orders from three to five years. The measure would also allow lifetime protective orders in certain cases.
The bill came to the Senate floor on Wednesday, which was also Domestic Violence Awareness Day at the State Capitol and was a legislative priority for the Oklahoma Coalition .Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Oklahoma is currently 11th in the nation in the number of women killed by men. David said increasing the length of time a restraining order remains in effect is important to the safety and well-being of domestic violence victims.
“In developing this legislation, I’ve worked with victims of domestic violence and stalking who’ve been harassed and terrorized for years, but have to return to the courts every three years to renew their protective orders. They have to be in the same room with the person who has victimized them without any guarantee the protective order will be renewed,” David, R-Porter. “This bill will make a tremendous difference in the lives of these individuals by ensuring they always have that protection and aren’t forced to continually face their abusers in court every few years.”
Under HB 2396, a judge could issue a lifetime protective order if an individual has a history of violating any court or governmental orders or has a previous felony conviction for stalking and a court order for a final Victim Protection Order has previously been issued against the person in this state or from another state. The protective order would remain in effect until modified by the court. If the defendant is behind bars, the protective order would remain in full force during the period of incarceration.
“In 2010, 51 Oklahomans, mostly women and children, were victims of domestic homicide. More than 25,000 were victims of domestic violence,” said Rousselot, D-Okay. “This bill gives us another tool to better protect victims of stalking and domestic violence, and hopefully will help us save lives.”
HB 2396 now goes to the governor for consideration.