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Virginia family seeks changes to domestic violence laws

A recent tragedy has caused a stir amongst Virginia lawmakers and residents alike. The incident occurred when a mother, sister, niece and nephew were killed in a house fire. The incident may be the result of domestic violence.

Court documents show records of a man leaving voicemails threatening the family. Search warrants indicate that an investigator saw that two of the victims had puncture wounds. Documents also indicate that the man allegedly responsible may have been threatening another woman who lived at the house and is related to the deceased family. There was a preliminary protective order against the man at the time of the incident.

Family members of the deceased are taking a stand against domestic violence by fighting for a domestic violence registry. They say that it would require those with two or more protective orders against them to register as a domestic violence offender for a minimum of five years. The family believes that much like a sex offender registry, having "domestic violence offender" on their record may deter people from acting violent.

Domestic violence is typically any sort of violent act committed by a family or household member against another. Domestic violence can include physical, mental, sexual, emotional and economic abuse. Prosecutors tend to push for harsher consequences for those convicted of domestic violence than for those convicted of an assault involving strangers. Because the consequences of domestic violence are so severe, it is important to have a steady defense in place to protect against such a conviction.

Source: NBC 12, "Quadruple homicide prompts calls for statewide domestic violence registry," Chris Thomas, April 28, 2014

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