State Lawmakers Moving to Crack Down on Domestic Violence in Oklahoma

Mar 8, 2019

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering much harsher treatment of domestic violence.

A bill would add domestic assault and battery to the list of 85 percent crimes. Rep. Marcus McEntire was asked why House Bill 1056 doesn’t address services for victims.

"This is focused on putting the perpetrator behind bars for 85 percent of their sentence. I mean, it would allow the victim to have some time to get away, get the counseling that they need," McEntire said.

Rep. Chelsey Branham said requiring batterers to serve 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for parole may not be the best move.

"Putting people in prison actually exacerbates their issues in terms of behavior and mental health and could actually make an abuser be even more violent when they leave prison," Branham said.

Initially, the bill added only strangulation to the list of 85 percent crimes, but it was amended to include other forms of domestic assault and battery. The bill will be tweaked before final votes.

Another measure, House Bill 1093 proposes allowing evidence of past domestic violence admitted at trial for a current case. Critics said allowing such propensity evidence runs counter to defendants’ right to due process and would open the floodgates to allowing it in a variety of cases.

"It is an overreaction to say that this is going to start a slippery slope of propensity evidence. There is no reason to have it in certain situations. In this situation, I believe it is very relevant," said Rep. Mike Osburn.

Osburn said whether to allow evidence of past domestic violence would still be up to judges and juries.