An Ohio Senator recently introduced legislation in Ohio’s General Assembly to expand the protections for victims of domestic violence. Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) has proposed a bill that would allow domestic violence victims to shield their home address from public records. This is the fourth time that a legislator has tried to introduce the proposed changes to the law. In 2010, a similar bill, which received support from then-Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, made it out of the Ohio House with unanimous support. The 2010 bill, however, did not make it out of the Senate. The two other bills never made it out of either the House or the Senate.
Proposed Ohio Address Confidentiality Program
Senate Bill 83 would establish an Address Confidentiality Program to conceal the addresses of victims of stalking, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. Under the program, domestic violence victims (or other individuals protected by court orders) can have their government-related mail sent directly to the Secretary of State’s Office. Participants in the program would then have their mail forwarded to them from the Secretary of State’s Office. The “forwarding” addresses would be excluded from public records.
In order to participate in the program, individuals would have to submit an affidavit stating that they fear for their safety or the safety of their children. Other individuals may also qualify under the program, including:
- Individuals who have protection orders for menacing by stalking or domestic violence;
- Individuals who are victims of assault, sexual assault and/or battery, domestic violence; and
- Individuals who are victims of other crimes.
At a recent hearing before the Ohio Senate State and Local Government Committee, Senator Sandra R. Williams testified in support of her legislation to establish the Ohio Address Confidentiality Program. Senator Williams stated that “this program will be a critical component of safety planning for victims who fear further violence or even lethal retaliation from their offenders.” Furthermore, she said that the proposed legislation would “allow victims to continue to engage in the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”
According to Senator Williams, Ohio would become the 38th state to pass such a program. In 1991, Washington became the first state to pass legislation protecting a domestic violence victim’s address. The legislation is important because it would allow domestic violence victims to shield their address when submitting information to public agencies. It is a crime to falsify address information on public records, regardless of whether the information was falsified to protect identity.
Contact the Laubacher & Co.’s Cleveland Domestic Violence Attorneys
If you have questions regarding domestic violence laws in Ohio, a Cleveland domestic violence attorney can help. Laubacher & Co.’s Cleveland domestic violence attorneys have experience helping domestic violence victims with a variety of issues, including obtaining civil protection orders.