HONOLULU — A new Hawaii law makes domestic violence a felony if committed in the presence of children.
The statute took effect June 20 and makes physical abuse in the presence of a child under 14, who is a family or household member, a felony. A class C felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. Abuse without a child present remains a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the law is drawing criticism that it’s excessive and vague.
Defense attorney Myles Breiner says it isn’t clear if the law applies to a child in another part of the home who hears arguing but doesn’t see anything.
He says ramifications of a felony conviction could add more stress to a family.