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Four bills to prevent domestic violence in Texas

While most Texas families enjoy a peaceful and loving life, others must endure family violence, which includes sexual abuse, domestic assault and spousal abuse. Domestic violence is a growing problem in Texas, including the county of Houston.

The Texas Department of Public Safety reported 177,983 family violence cases in the state in 2011. Almost 40 percent of these cases were associated with violence against a spouse, and 16 percent were against children. The other 44 percent involved violence against some other member of the family. Given these numbers, a Texas state representative compared domestic violence to an epidemic having severe consequences in Texas.

The representative noted that people who abuse or harm others should expect and prepare for stern punishment. He has written one bill and co-authored three others that aim to stiffen the offense levels and penalties for Texans convicted of domestic violence. House Bill 2541 can make the third conviction of domestic violence assault a second-degree offense. With the proposed changes, convicted offenders, who are imprisoned, may have to serve no less than two years before being eligible for parole. A person convicted of a class A misdemeanor may have to pay up to $4,000 in fines, serve a year in jail or do both.

Another bill may create a domestic violence registry listing those who are convicted on at least three counts of abuse as repeat offenders. The registry will be online, along with detailed personal information and photos of the offenders. House Bill 1436 provides compulsory terms of incarceration for repeated violations of protective orders.

These proposed bills are essential in preventing domestic violence, which can lead to injuries or death. Hence an ex-parte protective order is advisable. Family violence cases can be extremely sensitive and complicated, but victims have options.

Source: Your Houston News, "Legislature: Four bills introduced to combat domestic violence in Texas," March 7, 2013.

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