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Proposed Law Would Create Database for Protective Orders

Online DatingUnder a proposed statute, Texas would create an online database that would identify all residents who have ever been subject to a restraining or protective order, regardless of whether they were arrested, charged or convicted of a criminal offense. The bill, proposed by state representative Brooks Landgraf, (R-Odessa) would create a registry similar to the sex offender registries now implemented across the country. Landgraf is dubbing the proposed statute “Monica’s Law,” named after Monica Deming, a woman from Odessa who died in a murder-suicide, there the perpetrator had been named on protective orders sought by two other women.

Supporters of the proposed law say it would help innocent people be better informed in a world of online dating. Landgraf said the online registry would allow people to do a background check before going on a date.

Deming’s father, a former police officer, says he is confident his daughter would still be alive if the database had existed. He says that he ran a background check on the man who killed his daughter, but no criminal charges had ever been filed, so nothing showed up. He argues that th existence of such a database would help protect other women.

Criminal defense attorneys, though, say there are a number of legitimate concerns with such a database. They say such a system has the potential for significant abuse and may subject innocent people to retaliation or other unintentional consequences. Attorney Allen Place, of the Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Association, says that the burden of proof to get a restraining order is significantly less than in a criminal prosecution, and that many family law attorneys routinely recommend that their clients get a protective order, even if there’s been no indication of violence in the marital home. Place also says that, because many parties to divorce choose not to contest the proceedings, they may choose not to attend the hearing and may have the protective order entered without their knowledge or the opportunity to challenge.

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