New and potential legislation on domestic violence aims to make it harder for convicted offenders get out of jail and start their life over. State legislators and the Governor, Roy Cooper, have made great strides in trying to deter occurrences of domestic violence offenses that lead to death by enacting several domestic violence-related laws over the past few months. Two of the laws drafted by legislators - Britny's law and Caitlin's law - are expected to largely impact the way defendants are prosecuted and penalized in the state criminal justice system. The first has already been signed into law, while the second is still being drafted.
Domestic Violence & Death
The number of people who have died in crimes involving domestic violence continues to rise in the state of North Carolina. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence released a study concluding that a total of 82 people were killed last year in domestic violence homicides, and 37 people have been killed so far this year. Against this backdrop, families of victims have made it a priority to get new legislation passed.
Britny's Law: Signed by Governor Cooper
Britny's law was inspired in the memory of 22-year-old Britny Puryear who was killed by her live-in boyfriend, Logan McLean. On November 2014, Britny was gunned down in her Fuquay-Varina home while her 5-month-old was in the other room. Investigators concluded that McLean, who was also the father of the baby, had been the shooter. After receiving word of the circumstances surrounding the young woman's death, Britny's father, Stephen Puryear, dedicated much of his time to helping other victims of domestic violence. He, along with several other legislators, drafted “Britny's law” in hopes of toughening the punishment for defendants who are found guilty of domestic violence homicides. The bill was recently passed and signed into law by Gov. Cooper.
Prosecutors oftentimes charge second-degree murder rather than first-degree murder due to the common argument made by defendants that the crime was committed out of passion or in the heat of the moment. The new law will allow prosecutors to allege that the murder was premeditated if the defendant has a history of committing crimes of domestic violence against the same person.
“One thing Britny has done is brought Republicans and Democrats together in North Carolina - 158 to 2 - on an issue that affects so many different people: domestic violence,” Stephen said. “If Britny's law helps one family not lose a loved one, make sure that the murderer never gets out, then all of our time and efforts are working.”
Caitlin's Law: Pending
Another family had to live through the pain of losing their daughter at the hands of her partner that same year. Caitlin Faulkenberry was stabbed more than 70 times by her fiancé, Calvin Clay. Afterwards, he left their residence in Caitlin's SUV and struck three vehicles in an attempt to harm himself. According to recent reports, Calvin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. He was sentenced to 36 years in prison.
Caitlin's friends and family have banded together to draft “Caitlin's law,” which if passed, would center on how restraining orders are issued and enforced.
Experienced North Carolina Attorneys
If you have recently been arrested in the state of North Carolina, you should immediately consult with an attorney. The legal professionals at Caulder & Valentine are dedicated to fighting for the rights of their clients. Contact them today for a consultation.