New Laws in TN will Help Domestic Violence Victims

New laws in Tennessee will give judges more tools to help domestic violence victims. WGNS’ Scott Walker has the story…

Reports indicate that judges in Tennessee are reacting positively about the new legislation.

More Details: Cell phones

Cell phones can be valuable resources for victims of domestic abuse, allowing them to maintain contact with friends and family members or reach out for help from law enforcement or other agencies.

Unfortunately, because of the way that many cell phone plans are structured, cell phones can also tie victims to their abusers even after the victim has left a violent situation. If an abuser is the primary account holder on a family plan, for instance, that abuser may have access to a plethora of information from the abuser’s cell phone, including location and call and messaging data.

The new law in Tennessee gives victims the ability to separate their phones and phone numbers from a plan, even if they are not the primary account holders. In that way, they can retain their independence and their data without having to worry about their abusers monitoring their cell phones.

When filling out an order of protection, a domestic violence victim now has the option of checking a box asking a judge to "transfer the billing responsibility for and rights to wireless telephone number(s)." There is then a separate form that they can fill out and send to their wireless provider. The forms are available on the Administrative Office of the Courts website – https://www.tncourts.gov/node/305439

The bill was sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Representative Jim Coley (R- Bartlett). It went into effect on April 18 upon Governor Bill Haslam’s signature.

More Details: No contact order

The other domestic violence bill provides an additional layer of protection to victims by having judges attach no contact orders to alleged perpetrators’ bond conditions.

Previously, judges would automatically issue civil orders of protection against alleged abusers found to have caused serious bodily harm or to have used or displayed a weapon. The new law keeps the process in criminal court by having the no contact order issued as part of bond. After the no contact order is issued in criminal court, a victim can still petition for an order of protection from civil court, thus obtaining two safeguards against an alleged abuser.

This new law goes into effect on July 1 and was sponsored by Representative William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) and Senator Brian Kelsey (R- Germantown).

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