Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Indiana Senate Bill SB 198 Domestic Battery

Senator Michael Crider has authored Senate Bill SB 198 relating to Domestic Violence. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. It is scheduled for hearing on 12 January 2016 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 130.

While the bill is 48 pages most are original texts that contain no changes or the inclusion of a code citation. That is simply conforming various portions of the existing criminal code related to battery and Domestic Battery by locating all Domestic Battery offenses within that section and relating or including Domestic Battery with other battery offenses throughout the numerous sections. The substantive portion of the bill comes in the amendments to the Domestic Battery statute.

The bill simplifies the relationship definition for the domestication element of Domestic Battery. Removed is that the persons involved in the battery are or were married or living as married, or have a child in common. This is replaced by the simple parameter of “family or household member”.

A series of aggravating factors are detailed for the purpose of establishing the various offense levels consistent with simple battery offense levels. This bill also adds battery by bodily waste to the Domestic Battery section.

One thing that I did not see in the bill is a definition of “family member”. In providing the inclusion of “household or family member” as a required relationship element for qualifying as Domestic Battery I believe the intent to be people that are domesticated together - residing together as a traditional family such as parents and children and possibly other close relations such as grandparents, adult siblings or cousins.

The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines define “household family member” as an “adult person residing in the household, who is related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption.” I suggest that for the purpose of the Domestic Battery statute that “household or family member” be defined as “a person who primarily resides in the household, who is related to the the other person by blood, marriage, living as married, or adoption.” This would include multiple generations of family members, residing extended family, and also any family member who has temporarily relocated from the household to a shelter or elsewhere. I have sent this suggestion to Senator Crider.

This is logical legislation because it would disqualify absurd applications of the Domestic Violence enhancement to situations such as two people who bump cars in a parking lot and get into a fight who just happened to have been married 20 years earlier but haven’t seen each other in 15 years.

The progress of this bill will be updated on the posting List of 2016 Indiana Child Custody, Child Support, Domestic Violence, and Child Well-Being bills.

Senator Crider has informed me that he has been assured that judges commonly use "family member" as a household member.

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