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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Senate Passes Bipartisan Bills Strengthening Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Laws

The Connecticut Senate today passed two bills aimed at combating domestic violence and human trafficking in Connecticut.

House Bill 7299, An Act Concerning Strengthening Laws Concerning Domestic Violence, passed the Senate in a bipartisan, unanimous vote.

The bill strengthens domestic violence laws in Connecticut and increases penalties for stalking and other forms of violence against women by amending criminal statutes governing stalking to include social media, telephone, and other forms of harassment, tracking and intimidation, and strengthens penalties for those convicted of stalking. It also reclassifies suffocation under the strangulation statutes, and enhances the penalty for violation of the conditions of release of an offender.

“It is critical that our domestic violence laws adapt in order to keep up with our changing forms of communication,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “With threats and harassment made through social media platforms increasing, the General Assembly is ensuring that victims are fully protected under the law.”

The bill previously passed the State House of Representatives on a unanimous vote.

If signed into law, the bill would:

  • Change the “standard of fear” required for the stalking statutes;
  • Include suffocation in the strangulation statutes;
  • Delete from the statues the requirement that the contents of a restraining order forwarded to law enforcement include the applicant’s affidavit;

The Senate also passed HB 7309, An Act Concerning Human Trafficking which aims to prevent sex trafficking by increasing penalties for sex trafficking, providing greater education to state agencies, and adding members to the state’s Trafficking in Persons Council.

“We are sending a strong message that perpetrators of human trafficking will be subject to prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” said Senator Duff.

If signed into law, the bill would:

  • Increase the penalty for trafficking in persons from a class B to a class A felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison in line with federal statute, and broaden the definition of “sex trafficking”.
  • Create a new crime, “commercial sex abuse of a minor,” which would be a class B felony, and a
  • Class A felony if the minor is under 15 years of age. Patronizing a minor is currently a class C felony.
  • Provide and require training for state public safety, legal, and health care employees, and public school employees for identifying and reporting human trafficking.
  • Require an increased number of businesses to post signage with the Trafficking in Persons Council hotline number.
  • Expand the membership of the state’s Trafficking in Persons Council, including adding an individual who has been a victim of sex trafficking.

The bill passed on a unanimous and bipartisan basis in the House of Representatives on May 17 and in the Senate Friday morning.

Both bills now head to Governor Dannel P. Malloy for his signature or veto.

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