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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: May 13, 2008

Sen. Jonathan Nichols
Sen. Jonathan Nichols

Nichols Plans Amendment to Combat Domestic Abuse

Sen. Jonathan Nichols on Tuesday planned to amend legislation to establish a felony for a first offense of domestic abuse, when a pattern of such behavior could be established.

Nichols said high rates of domestic abuse in Oklahoma demand harsher penalties. According to the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, more then 340,000 women are beaten on a regular basis in Oklahoma. In 2006, Oklahoma ranked seventh in the nation with 33 domestic violence-related homicides. According to the Violence Policy Center, Oklahoma ranks 10th nationally in the rate of women murdered by men.

“This would be another tool in the arsenal of our district attorneys in combating the epidemic of domestic abuse,” said Nichols, R-Norman. “It’s an embarrassment that there are harsher penalties for a first offense of cockfighting in this state than for punching your spouse in the face. The punishment needs to fit the crime.”

Nichols explained that under current law, a first offense of domestic abuse is a misdemeanor unless it can be established that great bodily harm has been inflicted on the victim.

“This terminology doesn’t establish a firm legal threshold and creates a gray area that in many cases allows women to be seriously beaten while the aggressors aren’t held accountable,” Nichols said. “We have an opportunity today to correct this language and guarantee justice for vulnerable and victimized women. The frequency of domestic abuse in Oklahoma is a blight on our state, and it’s our responsibility to address the issue and put an end to it.”

Nichols said the amendment would require the testimony of a third party who observed a pattern of conduct or other admissible evidence of domestic violence to establish a pattern of behavior.

For more information contact:
Sen. Nichols' Office:  (405) 521-5535

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