On Friday, May 17, 2013, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) will present its Legislative Champion Award to Sen. Jesse Stone (R-23) at 12:30 pm at the Richmond County Sheriff's Office Training Center-Myers Building, 2098 Greenland Road, Blythe, GA 30805. GCFV’s Chair Judge Stephen Kelley, Superior Courts, Brunswick Judicial Circuit; Commission member Judge John Flythe, State Court of Richmond County; Ms. Aimee Hall, Executive Director, Safe Homes Augusta; and Mr. Greg Loughlin, Executive Director, GCFV, will present the award at a law enforcement training sponsored by Safe Homes Augusta, the GA Coalition Against Domestic Violence, GCFV, and the District Attorney’s Office.
GCFV chose Sen. Stone for the award because of his sponsorship and successful passage of SB 86 (Family Violence Orders), and for his strong support for HB 78 (Protections for At-Risk Adults). Governor Nathan Deal signed SB 86 into law on May 7, 2013, and HB 78 on May 3, 2013.
Judge Kelley lauded Sen. Stone’s efforts on behalf of victims of domestic violence saying, “As a Judge and Chairman of the Commission, I want to acknowledge and recognize Sen. Stone. His determination to give law enforcement the tools they need to stop the cycle of violence will not only benefit countless numbers of victims but all the citizens of Georgia by making Georgia a safer place to live.”
SB 86 provides additional protections for Family Violence victims by authorizing law enforcement to arrest abusers for violating no-contact orders in Family Violence bond and probation conditions. Prior to SB 86, in the context of a criminal family violence case, law enforcement could not arrest abusers who violated no-contact orders imposed as conditions of bond or probation unless they were arrested for aggravated stalking – a felony – or law enforcement sought to revoke the abuser’s bond or probation which can take weeks. Frequently, neither remedy is appropriate, but the danger to the victim remains.
SB 86 creates a new option for law enforcement by adding violations of bond and probation conditions to the misdemeanor crime of violating a family violence order. This addition allows law enforcement officers to respond to abusers who violate court orders by engaging in non-violent contact, rather than either walking away from a dangerous situation to request a warrant or making an inappropriate felony charge of aggravated stalking when the facts do not support that charge.
“Sen. Stone’s hard work in the last legislative session will make Georgia a safer place for thousands of victims of domestic violence every year,” said Judge Flythe. “SB 86 allows law enforcement to act quickly and in a meaningful way when offenders violate Court orders.”
Ms. Hall noted, “Family violence offenders who disregard court orders are especially dangerous. SB 86 promotes swift and consistent sanctions when perpetrators continue to harass and stalk their victims.”
HB 78 (At-Risk Adults) was sponsored by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-7) and provides additional protections for Elderly Adults and People with Disabilities by moving relevant crimes against elder and disabled adults into the criminal code section most frequently used by law enforcement, expanding criminal protection for elder and disabled adults against sexual abuse and financial exploitation, expanding and clarifying the mandatory reporting requirements, and creating a process to speed up depositions for witnesses 72 ages and older in criminal proceedings. As Chairman of the Senate Non-Civil Judiciary Committee, Sen. Stone's support was critical.