States, Fearing Domestic Violence Rise, Raise Penalties For Choking


A new law in New Hampshire makes choking a felony punishable by three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, reports Previously, many defendants accused of choking their significant others had been punishable under misdemeanor charges carrying significantly less jail time than felonies. New Hampshire joins a number of other states that recently have increased penalties for choking. Studies show that the act is a clear precursor to many domestic violence incidents that turn fatal. Yet in many states, choking still must be prosecuted under broader and often more difficult-to-prove assault laws.

The new laws are part of a wider effort by states to reduce domestic violence not only by cracking down on perpetrators but by helping victims and preventing future crimes. Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, and Wyoming are among states that have passed their own choking laws in recent years. In New York, where domestic violence has taken on a higher profile after a scandal in which an aide to Governor David Paterson was accused of choking his girlfriend, legislation creating a new felony for choking was introduced in March. The spate of legislative activity – along with new attempts in other states to prevent and punish domestic violence – comes amid concerns that the sour economy and high levels of joblessness will result in a spike in domestic abuse.

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