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Domestic abuse in presence of child now a felony

August 26, 2014 - 9:31am

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.

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