When a person is convicted of a crime, the repercussions often extend far beyond serving time in jail or prison, paying fines and restitution, and being on probation or parole. Now, proposed legislation in Pennsylvania would prohibit anyone convicted of an offense related to domestic violence (DV) from holding public office in that state.
Earlier this year, Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, announced his plans to propose the bill which, if passed, would bar those individuals from serving as a legislator or from holding “any public office of trust or profit in state government,” as the proposed law states.
Rep. Conklin's Record of DV Legislation
Although the bill has yet to be proposed to other Pennsylvania lawmakers, this isn't the first time that Rep. Conklin has spoken out about the need for state-level support for domestic violence survivors and more stringent consequences for the individuals who perpetuate that violence. Since taking office in 2006, Conklin has authored a bill to lower the rates of sexual violence on college and university campuses in Pennsylvania, as well as one targeting dating violence among teenagers, named the “Demi Brae Cuccia Law“ in honor of the Monroeville teen who was fatally stabbed by her ex-boyfriend just one day after her 16th birthday.
In 2016, Conklin published a paper titled “Domestic Violence Victims Need Support at State Level” in the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs.
The Impact of Domestic Violence on PA Residents
Conklin announced the bill in an April press conference. Joining him was Anne Ard, Executive Director of Centre Safe, an organization whose mission is “to empower survivors of sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking and to work toward the elimination of such violence.” Also on the stage during the press conference was Laura Shadle, a Conklin staffer who is herself a survivor of sexual and domestic violence.
According to estimates, one in four Pennsylvanian women (and one in seven men) will experience domestic violence. Last year alone, at least 109 people lost their lives as a direct result of violence at the hands of an intimate partner (or former partner).
How the System Is Sometimes Weaponized
Unfortunately, allegations of domestic abuse and sexual violence are also fairly easy to make up out of whole cloth, and communities around the country have also seen an uptick in the number of false reports. To claim dishonestly that a loved one has behaved violently or threateningly in order to punish them or enact revenge for an action such as breaking up with the accuser, is not only devastating to that person but a strain on governmental resources, as well. It undermines efforts that lawmakers and advocates are taking to educate the public about this type of violence, as well.
If you have been wrongly accused of having committed crimes relating to domestic violence, or if your accuser has taken out a Protection from Abuse order against you, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento. An experienced and empathetic attorney, Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped many people in situations similar to yours. Call 888-535-3686 or click here to tell us about your case.