HB 1715: Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

In recent years, there has been a significant focus on enhancing legal protections for victims of domestic violence in Washington. This commitment to change is crystallized in the recent passing of House Bill 1715, an important piece of legislation aimed at strengthening the rights and protections afforded to these victims. The implications of this new law are wide-ranging and it is important to understand its key provisions and the impact it will have on those suffering from domestic violence.

Domestic Violence in Washington

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue in Washington State, affecting countless individuals across diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in 2021 alone, nearly 60,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported to law enforcement. This alarming figure represents only a fraction of the real problem, as many cases go unreported due to fear, intimidation, and lack of trust in the justice system.

Historically, the legal framework in Washington has been inadequate in providing sufficient protection to victims of domestic violence. The Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 1 in 5 homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner and, according to one study, over 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun by an intimate partner. The need for stronger, more comprehensive legislation is clear, leading to the introduction of House Bill 1715.

House Bill 1715

House Bill 1715, now a landmark law, aims to bolster protections for victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault in Washington State. This comprehensive 43-page legislation includes several key provisions, most notably the strengthening of requirements on suspects to surrender weapons. It provides expanded training for judicial officers with respect to preventing domestic violence homicide. Law enforcement officers will also be required to receive increased training on various aspects of domestic violence, including specifically on the intersection of firearms and domestic violence.

Another key provision of the law involves the creation of a pilot program to implement domestic violence high-risk teams. These teams will be charged with identifying and interceding in domestic violence cases with a high risk of homicide. They will provide increased access to supportive services for high-risk victims and increased perpetrator monitoring. The law also requires the creation of a model policy for the use of electronic monitoring with victim notification technology, and it establishes a research center at the University of Washington to determine the most effective methods of preventing domestic violence.

How Will House Bill 1715 Affect Domestic Violence Victims?

The enactment of House Bill 1715 is a landmark step forward in Washington State’s fight against domestic violence. By expanding training for judges and police, strengthening requirements for the surrender of weapons, and offering enhanced support for survivors, the justice system is taking significant steps forward to combat this troubling and pervasive problem. If you are a victim of domestic violence from a family member or intimate partner, contact Jennifer today to receive help in navigating this changing legal landscape.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you have an ongoing divorce or child custody case and are seeking a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) the DVPO case will be consolidated with the family law case, and therefore the DVPO should be handled by a family law attorney.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.