Domestic violence is a criminal offense the state of Ohio takes very seriously. For several years, the state of Ohio has allocated considerable resources to special law enforcement investigation units and prosecution teams dedicated to resolving domestic violence crimes, including rape, stalking, and sexual battery. Prosecution and convictions for domestic violence has risen; however, these measures have not always made domestic violence victims safer.
Until last month, the addresses of domestic violence victims were included in public records. This means the home address of a domestic violence victim could be accessed by anyone, including the former abuser, during a public records search. Having a former abuser, stalker, or rapist with access to a victim’s address can have disastrous consequences.
House Bill 359
In January 2016 the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 359. House Bill 359 allows domestic violence victims to have their addresses omitted and/or erased from public records. HB 359 is aimed to protect individuals who have been victimized by:
- Sexual battery
- Domestic violence/abuse
- Human Trafficking
HB 359 allows victims to withhold their contact information – specifically their home address – from appearing on public records when with government agencies.
The bill allows the Secretary of State’s Office to assign domestic violence victims an Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) number, which would double as a P.O. Box, to use in place of their own address when:
- Registering their vehicles
- Registering to vote, and/or
- Filling out any governmental forms
Additionally, domestic violence victims can also provide institutions of higher education as well as, their employers P.O. Box number in place of their address.
House Bill 359 was proposed after the gruesome 2009 triple-murder of domestic violence victims, Marcia Eakin and her two young children, in which public records where used by her ex-husband to track them down.
Effect of HB 359
In addition to making domestic violence victims safer and more secure in their homes. Domestic violence victims can also participate in several activities most people take for granted, including registering to vote and registering with the department of motor vehicles (DMV).
This is important, because once registered to vote or with the DMV, contact information is now public for any and every one to stumble upon. Before the passing of HB 359, many domestic violence victims were too afraid to take advantage of it for fear of being tracked down by the information provided while registering.
Many survivors of abuse would rather opt out of voting altogether than have their contact information listed online for their attacker to stumble upon.
The Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) provides resources, information and training for domestic violence victims as well intervention programs for batterers.
For 9:00am – 5:00pm assistance, contact the ODVN at 1 (800) 934-9840
For afterhours assistance, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-7233
Domestic violence charges are arguably the most disruptive and difficult charges to fight. Whether you’re in the midst of a child-custody dispute, have had a silly argument with your spouse that got out of hand, or are facing completely false accusations of abuse from a previous and/or current romantic partner, you should seek a legal professional. Even if the alleged victim does not follow through with the charges, there is still a possibility that you could face stiff penalties such as restraining orders, counseling, and jail time.
If you are in Ohio and have been charged with Domestic Violence in the state of Ohio, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact the Joslyn Law Firm today to speak with one of our experience criminal defense attorneys at (614) 444-1900