OKLAHOMA CITY – The House of Representatives today passed a measure that would add strangulation during a domestic violence incident to the list of violent crimes and would increase the punishment for the offense.
House Bill 3371, by State Rep. Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow), passed by a vote of 93-0.
The bill would modify the penalty for assault and battery with intent to cause great bodily harm by strangulation or attempted strangulation against an intimate partner or family member. The measure increases the punishment from the current sentence of not less than one year nor more than three years of imprisonment to a punishment of not less than one year nor more than ten years of imprisonment. The punishment for a second or subsequent offense is increased to a punishment of not less three years nor more than twenty years imprisonment. The measure also adds domestic abuse by strangulation to the list of violent crimes.
“Strangulation is no doubt a violent crime, no matter who the victim,” Ford said. “And yet our current law allows for a greater penalty for someone who strangles a stranger than for someone that strangles their spouse. This law would properly classify domestic violence strangulation as a violent crime, and would ensure the perpetrators of this crime would face a much longer sentence.”
Ford said strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence, and a person being strangled by an intimate partner or family member is 750% more likely to be killed later by that same person. Oklahoma is currently ranked 20th in the nation for domestic violence. Ford said if we want to change that statistic we must enact laws that protect our citizens.
Figures from the Tulsa Police Department show there were 701 reports of strangulation in 2019, up from 234 reports in 2016. There were 1,636 reports of domestic violence occurrences or victim protection order violations in 2019.
HB 3371 now moves to the Senate for consideration. Sen. Michael Bergstrom (R-Adair) is the Senate author of the bill.