News release from House and Senate Republican Caucuses:
(NASHVILLE, TN), June 9, 2011 – Tennessee courts will now have two new tools to help deal with domestic violence cases after Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation sponsored by State Senator Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill) and Representative Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) into law.
Senate Bill 509 allows a court to assess costs against a person who has abused the system if there is clear and convincing evidence that first, the person was not a victim as claimed and, second, that the application was filed by a petitioner who knowingly submitted it falsely. Currently, any person who files for an Order of Protection is considered a victim, precluding a judge from assessing court costs against a person who applies for an order of protection just to harass another.
The bill also allows judges to require the person against whom an order of protection has been issued to pay of all costs, expenses and fees pertaining to their victim’s breach of a lease or rental agreement.
“This new remedy will greatly assist in dealing with one of the financial burdens associated with domestic violence,” said Senator Mike Faulk. “It will also curb abuse of the system so that limited law enforcement and court resources are not utilized for improper reasons and so efforts are focused on victims who are truly in need of protective measures.”
“This legislation allows judges to assess costs against persons who abuse the court system by falsely claiming domestic abuse,” added Representative Dennis. “It allows judges to impose court costs, attorney fees, and litigation taxes against a person who makes a false claim.”
“The second tool provided to judges under the bill is to allow for the court to give victims who are in a lease for residential property relief if the court finds that continuing to reside in the rented or leased premises jeopardize the life, health and safety of the victim or their children,” added Faulk. “This should help domestic violence victims escape further abuse.”
“We are very pleased this legislation has been signed into law and believe it will provide help for victims of this crime,” concluded Dennis.