Georgia Senate approves stricter penalties for repeat domestic abusers

The Georgia Senate unanimously agreed Tuesday to sharpen penalties aimed at repeat domestic abusers, passing a bill that allows felony charges against someone who has a past history of family violence.

Senate Bill 193 would let local prosecutors issue a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor to someone accused of family violence battery if there was a prior out-of-state conviction for the same charge.

It also allows for a felony arrest if a person has a past incident in Georgia that was similar in nature — even if that incident was not officially recorded as domestic violence battery.

State Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, who sponsored SB 193, said the bill closed loopholes within the law that allowed serial batterers to slip through the cracks.

The bill passed on Stop Violence Against Women Day at the state Capitol, with dozens of anti-violence advocates on hand to witness the vote. Their cheers could be heard in the Senate chamber after the vote was recorded. SB 193 now goes to the state House for consideration.

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