Council supports tougher penalties for domestic violence offenders

July 14, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night voted to ratchet up penalties for domestic violence offenses, bringing the city's laws in line with the state's.

"The city recognized the current laws were behind the state code and just wanted to correct the city code to bring it in line with the state," said Public Safety Committee Chair Jim Shealey. "The new language in the code defines who the people are in a household where the offender committed the act, and raises the degree of the charge that a perpetrator can be sentenced for."

Passage of the legislation means two key changes to the section of Akron Municipal Code which deals with threats of violence against household members.

Any person who has pleaded guilty to or been convicted of domestic violence who threatens a family or household member will now be charged with a second degree misdemeanor. Until now, the offense was classified as a third degree misdemeanor. Akron's maximum penalty for a third degree offense is a $750 fine or 60 days in jail. The punishment for a second degree charge is a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail.

Further, two-time offenders who continue to threaten family or household members now can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which carries a six month jail sentence.

"Effectively it means more jail time," Shealey (At Large) said. "Now we can put somebody away for a longer period if the perpetrator is part of the household where the violent act took place."