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LAWMAKERS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, GOVERNOR PUSH

Criminal Division | Department of Justice | Department of Justice Press Releases | Date Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010



 
Markell showing their support, Rep. Michael A. Barbieri and other lawmakers unveiled

legislation that would strengthen protection from abuse orders (PFAs) by extending PFA “no

contact” provisions and setting circumstances under which these provisions can be extended for

life.

House Bill 336 would allow the Family Court to extend the “no contact” provisions of a PFA

from its current one-year limit to two years in every case. In cases where aggravating

circumstances exist, the bill would give the court discretion to order no contact for as long as

deemed necessary.

“Women who have suffered domestic violence have already lived through a nightmare,”

Attorney General Biden said. “Requiring them to reapply for legal protection is an unnecessary

hardship. This legislation lifts a heavy burden off of their shoulders so they can move on with

their lives.”

Rep. Barbieri, D-Newark, noted that there are no permanent restraining orders in Delaware. The

legislation, he said, would add that option for cases in which Family Court determines there is a

need for such an order.

“One of government’s most important functions is to protect our vulnerable citizens. People who

suffer from abuse often struggle with esteem issues and find themselves trapped in an untenable

situation,” Rep. Barbieri said. “The current system puts the burden of requesting an extension on

the person who is struggling, and that only aggravates the situation.

“This legislation will allow our courts to determine if a more long-term order is warranted, which

removes the stress from the person seeking the protective order. We will be better able to protect

our most vulnerable citizens while making the system less cumbersome.”

Under current law, PFAs may be granted for up to one year. After that initial period, the victim

may petition the court for a six-month extension. After the extension expires, the victim must

apply for a new PFA and show that they have suffered additional harm. House Bill 336 would

change current law in two important ways:

1) It would extend the initial maximum duration of most PFAs from one year to two years;

2) In cases where abuse is most egregious, including where a deadly weapon is used, prior

protective orders continue to be violated, and/or the court believes there is ongoing and

immediate danger, it would allow the no-contact provision of PFAs to remain effective

throughout the victim’s lifetime.

“No one should need to live in fear,” Governor Markell said. “We want anyone who labors under

the threat of violence to be able to get the protective order they need, for as long as it needs to be

in place. This policy is designed to provide at least a small measure of comfort to those at risk

and additional peace of mind to those in desperate need of it.”

Eileen Williams, coordinator of the Kent County Domestic Violence Advocacy Program, works

directly with abuse victims and said that the legislation would go a long way toward alleviating

pressure and problems victims face after the court process ends.

“I have seen cases where an abuser begins harassment the day after a PFA expires,” Ms.

Williams said. “I have seen other instances where the abuse continues for seven years.

Fortunately, these cases are few, but even one case is too many when you consider what these

victims go through. This legislation is beneficial so that a victim doesn’t have to come back to

court hoping that the court will approve a new PFA.”

House Bill 336 is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Patricia M. Blevins, D-Elsmere,

Rep. Deborah D. Hudson, R-Fairthorne, and Senate Minority Whip Sen. Liane M. Sorenson, RHockessin.

“Expanding the Family Court’s ability to protect victims of domestic violence by extending

protection orders is an important step toward helping those victims rebuild their lives,” said Sen.

Blevins, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor. “We need laws like this to send a strong message that

we’ll do everything we can to protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse.”

HB 336 was drafted by the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. It has been assigned to the

House Judiciary Committee.

###

With Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III and Governor Jack A.

image_printPrint


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Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

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LAWMAKERS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, GOVERNOR PUSH

Criminal Division | Department of Justice | Department of Justice Press Releases | Date Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010



 
Markell showing their support, Rep. Michael A. Barbieri and other lawmakers unveiled

legislation that would strengthen protection from abuse orders (PFAs) by extending PFA “no

contact” provisions and setting circumstances under which these provisions can be extended for

life.

House Bill 336 would allow the Family Court to extend the “no contact” provisions of a PFA

from its current one-year limit to two years in every case. In cases where aggravating

circumstances exist, the bill would give the court discretion to order no contact for as long as

deemed necessary.

“Women who have suffered domestic violence have already lived through a nightmare,”

Attorney General Biden said. “Requiring them to reapply for legal protection is an unnecessary

hardship. This legislation lifts a heavy burden off of their shoulders so they can move on with

their lives.”

Rep. Barbieri, D-Newark, noted that there are no permanent restraining orders in Delaware. The

legislation, he said, would add that option for cases in which Family Court determines there is a

need for such an order.

“One of government’s most important functions is to protect our vulnerable citizens. People who

suffer from abuse often struggle with esteem issues and find themselves trapped in an untenable

situation,” Rep. Barbieri said. “The current system puts the burden of requesting an extension on

the person who is struggling, and that only aggravates the situation.

“This legislation will allow our courts to determine if a more long-term order is warranted, which

removes the stress from the person seeking the protective order. We will be better able to protect

our most vulnerable citizens while making the system less cumbersome.”

Under current law, PFAs may be granted for up to one year. After that initial period, the victim

may petition the court for a six-month extension. After the extension expires, the victim must

apply for a new PFA and show that they have suffered additional harm. House Bill 336 would

change current law in two important ways:

1) It would extend the initial maximum duration of most PFAs from one year to two years;

2) In cases where abuse is most egregious, including where a deadly weapon is used, prior

protective orders continue to be violated, and/or the court believes there is ongoing and

immediate danger, it would allow the no-contact provision of PFAs to remain effective

throughout the victim’s lifetime.

“No one should need to live in fear,” Governor Markell said. “We want anyone who labors under

the threat of violence to be able to get the protective order they need, for as long as it needs to be

in place. This policy is designed to provide at least a small measure of comfort to those at risk

and additional peace of mind to those in desperate need of it.”

Eileen Williams, coordinator of the Kent County Domestic Violence Advocacy Program, works

directly with abuse victims and said that the legislation would go a long way toward alleviating

pressure and problems victims face after the court process ends.

“I have seen cases where an abuser begins harassment the day after a PFA expires,” Ms.

Williams said. “I have seen other instances where the abuse continues for seven years.

Fortunately, these cases are few, but even one case is too many when you consider what these

victims go through. This legislation is beneficial so that a victim doesn’t have to come back to

court hoping that the court will approve a new PFA.”

House Bill 336 is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Patricia M. Blevins, D-Elsmere,

Rep. Deborah D. Hudson, R-Fairthorne, and Senate Minority Whip Sen. Liane M. Sorenson, RHockessin.

“Expanding the Family Court’s ability to protect victims of domestic violence by extending

protection orders is an important step toward helping those victims rebuild their lives,” said Sen.

Blevins, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor. “We need laws like this to send a strong message that

we’ll do everything we can to protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse.”

HB 336 was drafted by the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. It has been assigned to the

House Judiciary Committee.

###

With Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III and Governor Jack A.

image_printPrint


Graphic that represents delaware news on a mobile phone

Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

Here you can subscribe to future news updates.