Missouri Senate backs tougher domestic violence laws


April 23, 2011
Legislation overhauling Missouri’s domestic violence laws for the first time in nearly four decades was approved by the Missouri Senate on Thursday

The bill includes changes as basic as standardizing definitions for words like “domestic violence,” “abuse,” “adult,” and “child.” It also changes laws regarding orders of protection and requires that some repeat offenders face state — instead of municipal — charges that can carry tougher penalties.

Many of the bill’s changes follow the recommendations of a domestic violence task force created by Attorney General Chris Koster. The Senate’s 33-0 vote now sends the bill to the House.

Currently in Missouri, the definitions of such words as “adult” and “abuse” vary among different state laws and there is no state definition of “domestic violence.”

“In order to make Missouri’s domestic violence laws the most effective, we need to provide courts and law enforcement officers with clear, consistent definitions,” said sponsoring Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue.

The bill also makes several changes to the state laws surrounding orders of protection. It would also exempt victims from paying filing fees when they ask a court to enforce a protection order and would allow a judge to customize conditions in an order to fit a specific case.