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Amber's law changes protections for victims of domestic violence

Living in a violent situation is hard on you and your children. You know you need to find a way out, and there are legal options to help you do so. You can seek a protective order to keep yourself and your children safe, so the person hurting you has to stay away.

Legislators in Maryland know the importance of keeping families safe from harm, which is why a new bill moved through the House and may soon become law. The news from April 2017 reports that the bill, known as House Bill 1163, would require defendants of domestic abuse charges to wear a GPS ankle bracelet.

How would a GPS ankle bracelet help victims?

The GPS bracelet would let the victim know if the defendant is in an area where he or she is not allowed. The victim would receive an alert on his or her phone when the person passes into the restricted area. This gives the victim time to leave the area, call police and otherwise protect him- or herself. Additionally, the app would be a good way to track the defendant, so if he or she breaks the law, there's a record of him or her doing so that the courts can use.

This law was passed following the death of a 36-year-old woman who had been living in Prince George's County. She was killed in July 2012 by an ex-boyfriend who had previously been reported to police for assault. She had a protective order, but that didn't stop the man from breaking into her home and killing her. The young woman was found dead in her basement on July 22 in 2012.

The man responsible for her death faced a trial in May 2014 and was convicted. He has been sentenced to life in prison. Now, the bill, known as Amber's Law, has been approved and will help prevent incidents like this from happening again. A councilman working within the county calls the bill a triumph for victims of domestic violence, because it shores up protections against recurring violence after reporting an incident.

The bill still needs to be approved by the governor, who has the ability to veto the bill, sign it with his approval or to allow it to turn into a law without his signature.

Right now, you have a right to a protective order if you're feeling threatened and need to protect yourself. Your attorney can help you get the order as soon as possible.

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