Claxton bill to help victims of assault receives unanimous support

March 15, 2019
Contact: Lisa Haberzettl [Claxton], 251-3548

Sen. Claxton, “Current definitions of ‘strangulation’ limit our ability to help victims.”

AUGUSTA — Legislation from Sen. Ned Claxton, D-Auburn, LD 779, “An Act To Improve the Definition of ‘Strangulation’ in the “Aggravated Assault Laws” received an unanimous vote from the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. The bill would remove the requirement to prove intention from strangulation in aggravated assault cases.

“Strangulation is clear evidence of an escalating violent act by the abuser,” said Sen. Claxton. “If we are to protect the abused person and hold the abuser accountable, the severity of the progression to strangulation needs to be recognized for what it is and prosecuted.”

In 2012 the statute was amended to include strangulation. In that new language only strangulation was given a higher standard of prosecutors having to prove it was done intentionally. The culpable state of mind for all other types of aggravated assault are measured on if the action was intentionally, knowingly or recklessly perpetrated. Given that intent is hard to establish, proving intentional strangulation becomes harder. LD 779 is intended to correct the structural flaw that was created by the 2012 addition to the law.

At the public hearing, the Maine Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse, Maine Prosecutors Association and Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence all spoke in support of LD 779.

The bill now faces votes before the full Maine House and Senate.

 Erica McNally
Legislative Aide
Senate Majority Office
3 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333
(207) 287-1515