Gov. Mills signs Sen. Bailey bill to expand access to justice for domestic violence survivors into law

Posted: May 05, 2022 | Judiciary

AUGUSTA — On April 20, Gov. Janet Mills signed into law legislation from Sen. Donna Bailey, D-Saco, that will better protect survivors of domestic violence. LD 1696, “An Act To Clarify and Recodify Maine’s Protection from Abuse Statutes,” will make Maine’s Protection from Abuses Statutes more accessible and understandable.

“My goal for this bill was to make the Protection from Abuse Statutes more accessible, especially for domestic violence survivors who cannot afford legal representation,” said Sen. Bailey. “Our laws to support and protect survivors of domestic violence only work if people know what tools are available and how to access them. I want to thank Gov. Mills for signing this important bill into law.”

The new law recodifies and restructures the Protection from Abuse Statutes so that they are clear, easy to read and understandable. It also incorporates relevant case law into the statutory framework without making any substantive changes to existing law, and updates the cross-references between the Protection from Abuse Statutes and relevant statutory law.

According to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, approximately 14,000 Mainers experience sexual violence each year. However, less than 5 percent of those survivors will file a police report. For many survivors, they can seek civil protection from abuse orders but only if they can interpret the statutes without the benefit of legal counsel. This new law will help survivors, especially those who cannot afford a lawyer, seek protection.

The new law will take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns sine die.