Georgia Criminal Law Review

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Dating violence is a topic that has garnered increased awareness in recent days, both in the media and in the legal field. Many states have begun to pass legislation in attempt to address this issue and provide relief for victims of dating violence. In the summer of 2021, the state of Georgia passed House Bill 231, what later became known as Georgia’s Dating Violence law. This Article first examines our nation’s history of intimate partner violence to show why dating violence legislation was so desperately needed and how these legislative reforms have attempted to heal a system that for so long has excluded victims of dating relationships. Specifically, this Article examines the history of House Bill 231, which codified Georgia’s dating violence law, and why it took Georgia so much longer than other states to enact such a statute. You will hear from Georgia State Representative Houston Gaines, the author and strong proponent of this bill on how difficult it was to get the bill passed, despite the good that it set out to do for the state’s high rates of violence. Representative Gaines speaks to the culture of the General Assembly, as well as how and why the bill was written as a separate statute section. You will also hear from the Solicitor General of Bibb County, Rebecca Grist, on why she felt the law was needed and the process of working alongside the state legislature to create a bill that helped the largest number of people.

This Article also emphasizes the similarities and differences between Georgia’s law and the laws of other states, specifically addressing the idea that Georgia codified dating violence as its own unique statute, unlike the majority of other states that just added a provision or section to their already codified domestic violence laws. Further, an argument is made about whether Georgia’s method of adding a new code section for dating violence has proven to be greater than its counterparts or whether it has unintended results.

Lastly, this Article will look at the consequences of Georgia’s dating violence law since its enactment in July 2021. First, the law itself will be broken down to its bare bones, explaining each section and its intended effect. This Article delves deeper into the discussion of the temporary protective order section as one of the main objectives of this legislation is to allow victims of relationship violence to achieve relief from their aggressor through a temporary protective order accessible through their local courts. While there has not been a large amount of statistical data collected given such a short time frame since the legislation’s enactment, this Article includes a first-hand account from Superior Court Judge Wade Padgett of the Columbia Judicial Circuit on his experience working with this new law and seeing its results play out daily in his job. Judge Padgett teases out some of the benefits he has experienced since the law’s enactment as they relate to the rates of partner violence. He also mentions some of the law’s drawbacks and how it has resulted in numerous temporary protective orders being issued and dismissed a short while later.

After examining the history of dating violence in this country, whether it be teen dating violence, or simply intimate partner violence, this Article will attempt to make an argument as to whether Georgia’s new dating violence statute has answered the desperate call from the many victims of relationship violence in the state, or if it has fallen short, and if so, some ways to alleviate the shortcomings of the law.

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