That law took affect on Oct. 1st.
Frederick, Md (KM) Beginning on Thursday, October 1st, a new law takes affect in Maryland which classifies strangulation as a 1st-degree felony offense. The legislation was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in March.
Prior to that, Maryland was one of three states which didn’t classify strangulation as a 1st-degree felony assault. Joyce King, the Chief Counsel for the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office,. acknowledges that was surprising considering the harm strangulation does to victims. “Some of the testimony we’ve heard are that victims of strangulation are 750% more likely to die,” she says. “Within minutes you can cut off someone’s blood flow and air flow. And really, we’re talking about homicides.”
King was very much involved in the process to get this bill passed in the 2020 General Assembly Session. She said it received strong support from prosecutors. “The Maryland State’s Attorney’s Association really made this its priority piece of legislation this last session. Without all that great effort, I don’t think we would have made it,” she says.
Other organizations also lent their support. “We also this time around got a lot of support from non-profit organizations and women’s organizations across the state coming forward,” she said. “We had dozens and dozens of individuals come to Annapolis to testify in support of these bills.”
The House version of the bill was sponsored by Frederick County Delegate Jesse Pippy. The Senate version was sponsored by Montgomery County State Senator Susan Lee.
King says the bill was proposed two other times, but never made it out of the Legislature.
She said this new law will help prosecutors, particularly those who handle domestic violence cases. “In preparation for this law change, the County’s Human Resources Department they’ve allowed us to create an additional domestic violence prosecutor as well as two additional victim witness coordinator positions. So I’m very proud to say our unit is serving the community very well, ” she says.
Anyone who is convicted under this new law could be facing up to 25-years imprisonment.
By Kevin McManus