Gov. Malloy Signs Legislation Strengthening State’s Domestic Violence and Anti-Stalking Laws

Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation on Wednesday that will strengthen the state’s domestic violence laws.

The bill, which was approved by unanimous votes in both chambers of the General Assembly, amends the criminal statutes governing stalking to include stalking via social media, telephone, and other forms of harassment, tracking and intimidation; changes the strangulation statutes to include suffocation; and enhances the penalty for violation of the conditions of release, among other things.

“Updating our criminal statutes to ensure that members of law enforcement have the tools they need to intervene in dangerous situations is simply a moral obligation,” Governor Malloy said. “We know that significant numbers of domestic violence survivors report continued harassment by their abusers. These survivors need to know that the law is on their side, and that there are protections in place for them after they make the extremely difficult decision to leave a dangerous and abusive relationship. Connecticut has been and will continue to be a leader in protecting survivors of domestic violence.”

“Women are most commonly the victims of domestic violence, and it’s important that as we work towards gender equality, we consider how threats to health and safety actually occur,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “I applaud the legislature on unanimous passage of this bill – it is important that as we modernize technology, we update our victim protection laws as well. I thank the Governor for his decades of support for domestic violence victims.”

Some of the main provisions included in the bill will:

  • expand the conduct that constitutes stalking to include conduct that causes a reasonable person to suffer “emotional distress;”
  • specify that electronic or social media are among the methods, devices, or means by which conduct that constitutes 1st or 2nd degree stalking may occur;
  • broaden the strangulation statutes to include suffocation when a person obstructs another person’s nose or mouth;
  • increase the penalty for violations of release conditions when the violation involves certain conduct; and
  • require a presentence investigation for anyone convicted of a family violence felony for which a prison sentence may be imposed and prohibits such a defendant from waiving the investigation.

The legislation is Public Act 17-31An Act Concerning Strengthening Laws Concerning Domestic Violence. It takes effect October 1, 2017.