WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a new law Thursday concerning domestic violence in the Commonwealth.
The bill makes those convicted of certain violent felonies ineligible for first offender status for domestic violence crimes. It was introduced by Del. Mike Mullin, and was passed unanimously by the Virginia Senate in February.
McAuliffe says those who were already convicted of assaults on non-family members were benefiting from the previous law.
“People were abusing the system,” the governor said.
Delegate Mullin, who has worked as a prosecutor for 10 years, says he introduced the bill because of the cases he saw in court.
“We shouldn’t let someone get away on a technicality for abusing their spouse,” he said.
McAuliffe signed the bill at the Avalon Center, which has provided services and shelter for victims of domestic violence for nearly 40 years.
“It is difficult and scary enough in court to present such intimate and frightening details, but to have their abuser have first offender status and consequences, especially when the abuser has a history of violent crimes on their record, is disheartening and disempowering,” said Glenda Turner, who is the chair for center’s board.
Turner says laws like this helps restore hope to certain survivors.
McAuliffe hopes that the law sends a statement to the rest of the country on Virginia’s stance toward domestic violence.