"We need to make that amendment so in the future people don't get off because it's the wrong definition." – Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz
Senators once again debated a number of bills during the latest round of legislative session. Included in the discussion were a pair of measures introduced by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz related to strangulation and interference with family violence – Bills 373-33 and 378-33.
When speaking on the measures, Cruz stated that he attended a recent conference on domestic violence, where it became clear that Guam's definition of choking was inaccurate. Strangulation would be a more apt term for the act being referenced, Cruz stated.
"I think since introducing this legislation, there have been two or three ... reported incidences where there has been domestic violence where ... someone was being strangled and not being choked," Cruz said. "We need to make that amendment so in the future people don't get off because it's the wrong definition."
Bill 373 aims to include strangulation in Guam's family violence statutes as a third-degree felony.
"Strangling (someone) means, 'I want you to know I have control of your life in my hands or within my arms and if you don't comply with what I want, the next time, I will hold it longer until you're gone," Cruz stated on the session floor. "I ask my colleagues that we amend the statutes on domestic violence to include this definition to make sure that no one gets away with the act of strangulation because the definition in the statute is imprecise."
On Bill 378, a measure that would define and include interference with the reporting of family violence into Guam statute, Cruz referred to an incident in early October where an individual allegedly kidnapped a couple and prevented them from using their cellphones to call the police.
"That's a perfect example ... of a need to have this kind of legislation," Cruz said. "This [bill] is to make it a completely separate offense when that is done."
Both bills have been forwarded to the third reading file. Session is slated to resume today at 9 a.m.