S. 641 An Act relative to the Enforcement of Domestic Violence Laws, sponsored by Senator Frederick Berry.
In January 2009, the legislature passed and Governor Patrick signed into law increased penalties for the repeat domestic violence offender. This law, Chapter 534 of the Acts of 2008, provides a penalty of up to five years in state prison for those convicted of a “second or subsequent assault or assault and battery on a family or household member.” Because of the importance of this law, it carried an emergency preamble and became effective immediately in 2009. Unfortunately, because the language of the new law created a “second and subsequent offense” but failed to define what conduct constituted a first offense, the law has been unenforceable. This bill corrects the technical problems in the law passed in 2009 by establishing the predicate first offense, thus triggering the treatment of a defendant as a repeat offender.