Montgomery County Response to Rise in Domestic Violence Cases Amid COVID-19 Isolation
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX -- The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office reports an approximately 35% increase in domestic violence cases filed in March 2020 as were filed in the same time period in 2019. This rise may be due to increased isolation, stress, and more access to victims by perpetrators caused by the COVID-19 virus fallout.
As social distancing guidelines continue to further isolate victims from resources available to them, those victims are at an increased risk for abuse. The District Attorney's Office will continue to aggressively prosecute violent offenders, particularly those who prey upon these most vulnerable members of our community. The District Attorney's Office has implemented the following procedures to combat the increase in domestic violence that occurs during these difficult times:
1. The District Attorney's Office will aggressively pursue all disaster enhancements allowed by law for offenders who commit domestic violence offenses during this emergency situation. Adding disaster enhancements increases the minimum range of punishment on certain assaultive offenses, either by increasing the minimum days in jail, or by increasing the charge itself to a higher level offense. These enhancements will be utilized when appropriate.
2. A specialized domestic violence prosecutor remains on call to provide advice and resources to law enforcement investigating domestic violence cases and to personally respond to cases with a high lethality risk.
3. Members of the District Attorney's Office will to continue to attempting contact with victims who report domestic violence in Montgomery County within 24-72 hours from time an arrest is made. Victims will be provided resources and safety planning during this communication.
4. Victims of domestic abuse should continue to contact law enforcement in an emergency. Additionally, domestic violence organizations, both in our community and nationwide, remain open and victims of abuse, and those who suspect abuse, are encouraged to seek additional resources and information to get help for their situation:
• Montgomery County Women's Center 24 hour hotline: 936-441-7273 or https://mcwctx.org
• National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-72323, thehotline/org
• National Dating Violence Hotline: 866-331-9474
• LoveisRespect.org or Text hotline: Text LOVEIS to 22522
• Texas Council on Family Violence: https://tcfv.org/survivor-resources/
District Attorney Brett Ligon: Our priority during this emergency situation is safety of everyone in our community. This requires the best in all of us. We will continue to protect the health and welfare of our citizens, which requires more than just preventing them from becoming ill; it requires us to stop those who seek to harm those who are most vulnerable. Individuals who display the worst of humanity and commit acts of violence during this time should expect to be met with determined and aggressive prosecution by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.