House passes Fogarty legislation that would felonize third domestic violence charge


STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) that would felonize a perpetrator’s third domestic violence violation.

The bill (2024-H 7744) would amend the Domestic Violence Prevention Act to provide that a defendant’s third and subsequent domestic violence offense, including both prior felony and misdemeanor convictions, would be punishable as a felony.

“Domestic violence is one of the most serious problems facing our society today, and it is absolutely critical that we hold repeat offenders accountable for their habitual behavior,” said Representative Fogarty, who introduced the legislation on behalf of the attorney general. “Repeat offenses are often the prelude to even greater abuse, and allowing these offenses to continue has led to horrible tragedy and even fatality.”

According to a report by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, just over half of the perpetrators of domestic violence homicides between 2016 and 2020 had previous involvement in domestic violence-related judicial proceedings. Of those, 55% had been subject to a civil domestic violence restraining order, and 45% had previously been convicted or pleaded no contest in a domestic violence case.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2024-S 2932) has been introduced by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown).