State Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) today announced that the Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 231 by a vote of 174-0 on March 8.

This legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Gaines, would create a new type of temporary protective order for victims who experience abuse by a dating partner.

Gaines' district covers part of South Jackson.

“The unanimous passage of House Bill 231 marks a significant step forward in our fight against domestic violence in Georgia,” said Rep. Gaines. “Currently, Georgia is one of three states that does not offer civil protection for victims of dating violence. Temporary protective orders are tools for victims seeking safety from abuse and are an effective mechanism for abuser accountability. However, our current law denies access to potentially life-saving relief for some of the most at-risk victims, and HB 231 would improve Georgia law to offer safety to those victims who are most vulnerable. I want to thank the advocates who have worked so hard on this legislation and my colleagues for their bipartisan support.”

House Bill 231 would create a separate temporary protective order (TPO) for dating violence victims which is currently not covered by a TPO for family violence. These TPOs would cover felonies, simple battery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and stalking between two people with whom a pregnancy has developed or who are in a dating relationship. Under HB 231, a dating relationship is defined as a committed, romantic relationship that involves an intimacy level above that of a mere friendship, but it would not require sexual involvement to be considered a dating relationship.

This bill would ensure that victims in abusive dating relationships have access to immediate relief and would allow judges to order the abuser to seek counseling or participate in educational programs offered by the state. Within 10 days of a petition being filed, a hearing would be held in order for the petitioner to present his or her evidence, and the presiding judge would consider the factors specifically outlined to confirm the existence of a dating relationship.

HB 231 will now undergo consideration by the Senate.

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