Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
In 2016, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a law that makes attempting to strangle another person a specific criminal offense.
Prior to the law, which was enacted at the end of 2016, such offenses were typically classified as either misdemeanor simple assault or felony aggravated assault, depending on how severe the injury was.
The new law targets domestic violence incidents by making strangulation in many of those scenarios an automatic felony.
Several research studies have found acts of strangulation were a precursor to a large percentage of fatal domestic violence acts, meaning strangulation could be an indicator that a subsequent domestic violence victimization could be lethal.
In October, The Sentinel reported that because of the law felony assault charges had increased substantially in Cumberland County and several surrounding counties through the first nine months of 2017.
Felony assault charges rose more than 90 percent in 2017 in Cumberland County, more than 50 percent in York County and nearly 30 percent in Franklin and Adams counties, The Sentinel found.
The increase was largely attributed to incidents that previously would have been classified as misdemeanor simple assault being charged as felony strangulation.
Despite the increase in felony charges, deaths from domestic violence incidents rose to the highest level since 2011 in 2017, according to data from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
One law maker is looking crack down even harder on domestic abusers caught attempting to strangle their victims.