State Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) and Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced sponsorship and support of legislation that will be filed next year to require domestic abuse suspects to remain in jail for 12 hours following an arrest, with no exceptions. Currently, the 12-hour “cooling off period” can be waived by a judge.
“This is a very simple change to the law, but it will protect countless victims who have been abused and then potentially subjected to their attacker again before the 12-hour cooling off period,” said Rep. Lamberth, an attorney. “It is vitally important that our domestic abuse laws are strong, and we work to eliminate possible loopholes that can threaten the safety of a victim. I look forward to the legislature making this a priority in January.”
The announcement of the legislation follows news of a case in Nashville this week where David Chase, a local contractor, was arrested for domestic abuse. After only three hours in jail, Nashville Judge Casey Moreland agreed to release Chase, who returned to his home and attacked his girlfriend again.
“This is a devastating case, and my heart goes out to the victim,” said Speaker Harwell, who announced her support of Lamberth’s legislation. “This is a tragedy that could have been prevented, and the actions by Judge Moreland are unacceptable. This simple change to the statute can better protect abuse victims, and ensure that their lives are not at risk immediately after reporting an assault.”
Speaker Harwell has also this week re-appointed Rep. Lamberth to serve on the Tennessee Domestic Violence State Coordinating Council, which is charged with developing model policies and training curriculums for law enforcement agencies, the courts, and intervention programs.
Rep. Lamberth has drafted a copy of the legislation, which cannot be filed until November, after the general election.