Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 1999
Contact: Dave Nelson
(512) 463-0112

SENATE PASSES TOUGHER PUNISHMENT FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE

AUSTIN -- Repeat offenders of domestic violence will face tougher consequences under a bill approved today by the Texas Senate. Senate Bill 24, authored by State Senator Jane Nelson, R Flower Mound, makes anyone convicted of a second assault against a family member or household member subject to a third-degree felony charge.

Under current law, the first two convictions are considered Class A misdemeanors. Subsequent convictions result in a state jail felony, which results in automatic probation. Under Senator Nelson's proposal, a second conviction triggers penalties of between 2 and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

"Despite our efforts to curb this epidemic of family violence, the problem is getting worse. It is obvious that repeat offenders think they can get away with their abuse," Senator Nelson said. "With this legislation, we are going to change their minds very quickly. The Senate's decision today sends a clear message that in Texas we will no longer tolerate acts of violence that tear apart our families."

SB 24 is the fifth Nelson bill targeting family violence to pass the Texas Senate this session. Other Nelson bills currently before the Texas House are: SB 23, which extends the duration of an emergency protective order from 31 to 61 days; SB 50, which extends the duration of permanent protective orders from one to five years; SB 461, which allows a judge to order as a condition of probation that convicted abusers pay up to $100 to a women's shelter; and SB 588, which allows a judge to suspend concealed handgun licenses when issuing a protective order.

Another Nelson bill, SB 22, would classify acts of family violence that end in serious bodily injury as a "3g offense," a category reserved for the most heinous crimes. This designation would require that 3g offenders serve at least half of their jail sentences. SB 22 is pending before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to determine fiscal impact.

Senator Nelson represents Senate District 12, which includes parts of Dallas, Denton, Ellis and Tarrant County. She is chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

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