H. B. 2782
(By Delegates Miley, Skinner, Shott, Poore,
Sponaugle and Hunt)
[Introduced March 1, 2013; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to
amend and reenact §53-8-4 of the Code of West Virginia,
1931, as amended, relating generally to personal safety
orders; limiting the issuance of personal safety orders for
harassment; and establishing the proper venue for issuance of
a personal safety order.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §53-8-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended,
be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 8. PERSONAL SAFETY ORDERS.
§53-8-4. Petition seeking relief.
(a) Underlying acts. -- A petitioner may seek relief under
this article by filing with a magistrate court a petition that
alleges the commission of any of the following acts against the
petitioner by the respondent:
(1) A sexual offense or attempted sexual offense as defined in section one of this article;
(2) A violation of subsection (a), section nine-a, article
two, chapter sixty-one of this code; or
_____(3) A violation of subsection (b), section nine-a, article
two, chapter sixty-one of this code in which the respondent
repeatedly harasses or repeatedly makes credible threats of bodily
injury knowing or having reason to know that the conduct causes the
person to reasonably fear for his or her safety or suffer
significant emotional distress.
(b) Contents. --
The petition shall:
(1) Be verified and provide notice to the petitioner that an
individual who knowingly provides false information in the petition
is guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction, is subject to the
penalties specified in subsection (d) of this section;
(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (c) of this
section, contain the address of the petitioner; and
(3) Include all information known to the petitioner of:
(A) The nature and extent of the act specified in subsection
(a) of this section for which the relief is being sought, including
information known to the petitioner concerning previous harm or
injury resulting from an act specified in subsection (a) of this
section by the respondent;
(B) Each previous and pending action between the parties in any court; and
(C) The whereabouts of the respondent.
(c) Address may be stricken. -- If, in a proceeding under
this article, a petitioner alleges, and the court finds, that the
disclosure of the address of the petitioner would risk further harm
to the petitioner or a member of the petitioner's household, that
address may be stricken from the petition and omitted from all
other documents filed with, or transferred to, a court.
(d) Providing false information. -- An individual who
knowingly provides false information in a petition filed under this
section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $1,000 or confined
in jail not more than ninety days, or both.
(e) Withdrawal or dismissal of a petition prior to
adjudication operates as a dismissal without prejudice. -- No
action for a personal safety order may be dismissed because the
respondent is being prosecuted for a crime against the petitioner.
For any action commenced under this article, dismissal of a case or
a finding of not guilty, does not require dismissal of the action
for a civil protection order.
(f) Venue. -- The action may be heard in the county in which
any underlying act occurred for which relief is sought in the
petition, in the county in which the respondent is living, or in
the county in which the petitioner is living, either temporarily or permanently.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to limit the grounds upon
which a personal safety order may issue. Since the Personal Safety
Act went into effect in 2012, there have been a number of petitions
filed which alleged harassment that was of a very minor or even
frivolous nature. This bill is designed to prevent nonserious
grounds from being a basis for a personal safety order by requiring
that the "harassment" or "threats of bodily injury" be a repeated
behavior. Additionally, this bill establishes the proper venue in
which such petition may be filed. Some petitioners have been sent
to several different magistrate courts because current law does not
specify the proper venue in which a PSO may issue. This is a
particular problem in cases where the parties do not live in the
same county or the acts that led to the petition occurred in a
county other than the one in which the petitioner resides. This
bill is a product of a work group consisting of court personnel,
representatives of the domestic violence coalition, and other
victim rights groups who met several times over the past year for
the purposes of resolving these issues.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from
the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would