On August 8th, Governor Patrick signed Senate bill 2334 into law (Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2014) amending the Massachusetts domestic violence statutes. The law includes several new initiatives and changes:
1. Amending the criminal statutes to include the crimes of assault or assault and battery on a family or household member, strangulation, and suffocation.
2. Prohibiting reports of domestic violence, rape or sexual assault to be recorded in public daily police logs.
3. Setting bail procedures to include a 6 hour time period before a person over age 18 can be released on bail after being arrested for domestic abuse except by a judge in open court. Additionally a person authorized to set bail will have access to all criminal offender record information, probation and police records. The Commonwealth is the only party permitted to move for arraignment within 3 hours of a complaint being signed by a clerk magistrate for a person charged with a violation of a restraining order, domestic assault or strangulation.
4. Allowance of employees to take up to 15 days of leave from work in a 12 month period if the employee or a family member is the victim of abusive behavior. The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees, and it gives employers the right to determine if the leave is paid or unpaid.
5. Establishment of a state Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team to advise the Governor and General Court by recommending changes in the laws and policies designed to prevent domestic violence fatalities.
6. Creation of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Fund under the control of the Department of Public Health.
7. Training for law enforcement officers, District Attorneys, Assistant District Attorneys, and Trial Court personnel about domestic and sexual violence.
8. Requirement for the Board of Registration in Medicine, Nursing, Physician Assistants, Nursing Home Administrators, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions to develop regulations and standards pertaining to training and education about domestic and sexual violence.
9. Requirement for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop materials on teen dating violence and healthy relationships for high school students.
As an emergency law, it became effective on August 8, 2014. However, some sections will not go into effect until 2015.
See also our webpage on domestic violence.