Some Henry County officials joined other county and state officials for the signing of House Bill 711 into legislation at the state capital. On April 16, Henry County Solicitor-General Chuck Spahos, his Chief Investigator, Randall Coppolino, Chief Assistant Solicitor, Michelle Ferguson, Victim Services Coordinator, Shannon Duffey, and District Attorney Victim Services Director, Lorraine Bunn, watched as Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill.
Communities across the country are observing National Crime Victims’ Rights week, April 22 through April 28, by promoting victims’ rights, and honoring crime victims, and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme is “Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim.”
Some Henry County agencies are coming together to bring awareness of victims’ rights and the services available in Henry County. They have compiled a community awareness fair, law enforcement recognition and the annual memorial service together. A community fair and memorial service will be Thursday, April 26, beginning at 6 p.m., in the Henry County Judicial Center. A law enforcement recognition presentation will follow at 7 p.m., for officers and service providers who have provided outstanding services to victims of crime.
As part of the effort, Henry County’s Solicitor General, Charles A. “Chuck” Spahos, is continuing his work on legislative issues which impact victims of domestic violence. Spahos along with other co-sponsors of House Bill 711 were on hand as Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law.
The measure amends the spousal privilege under Georgia rules of evidence, which provide for certain exceptions and thereby allowing greater chances of success in prosecuting domestic violence cases.
“The change in the law will allow the state to hold batterers accountable for violence within the home by removing the ability of the perpetrator to manipulate and control the victim’s willingness to testify in court,” said Spahos.
He explained “no longer can a spouse invoke his or her spousal privilege to not testify against the accused, charged with crimes related to domestic violence involving a crime against a minor child, a crime against the other spouse or concerning his/her property, a crime the husband and wife are alleged to have acted jointly in the commission of, or if the alleged crime occurred prior to the marriage of the husband and wife.”