Bills that REALLY crack down on those who first exhibit signs of domestic abuse and strengthen penalties for sex traffickers are some of the public safety measures that the General Assembly recently sent to Governor McAuliffe. The governor is also reviewing a potential new law that’s designed to take the temptation out of smuggling cigarettes.
Many prosecutors say a major indicator that domestic violence will escalate is when the abuser tries to strangle a victim. That's why lawmakers made strangulation a Class 6 felony. Delegate Ben Cline says this bill gives the law more teeth.
"It essentially says that when someone is arrested and charged with this crime and goes before a judge, they are presumed not to be eligible for bond."
And it protects the victim.
"It gives the chance for the victim to have separation from the offender because usually you have an incident where the offender is in the same household."
Lawmakers also passed the state's first stand-alone sex trafficking statute that creates new felonies for commercial sexual activity, including prostitution recruitment. And to fight profit-seeking gangs and even terrorists, they've also lowered the felony threshold for possession with intent to distribute Virginia cigarettes from 500 cartons to 200.