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Courts / Law

New Law Changes the Rules for Domestic Violence Cases

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A new provision for domestic violence laws had been proposed by several groups interested in protecting abuse victims. It will allow previous interviews with the victim, like 911 calls, to be used in the proceedings, even if the victim refuses to testify.

Bradenton State Senator Mike Bennett was among the interested parties who helped pass the law. He said that the new law allows cases of domestic violence to proceed.

"Too many times on domestic violence, the victim is absolutely afraid to testify, for one reason or another,” he says.

Before the law, cases like these would need to be thrown out, often allowing the defendant to get away with their crime.

Defense attorneys say that this may infringe upon their client's rights. Heather Doyle, chief of the State Attorney's Office’s misdemeanor division, says that if a defendant has knowingly silenced a witness or victim, then he or she forfeits their constitutional right to cross-examine them.

The law takes effect this month.