Topeka KS Gets Heat for Domestic Battery Repeal

by on October 11, 2011

in criminal charges

The city of Topeka has received national coverage for their proposed repeal of the municipal ordinance banning domestic battery. But city officials say the media has got it all wrong, painting the town as inconsiderate of victim’s needs when they insist the repeal would only strengthen domestic battery enforcement.

So, how can repealing an ordinance banning domestic battery actually help victims of domestic battery? Because the responsibility of prosecuting those accused will fall back on the District Attorney.

Domestic battery isn’t only against the teetering Topeka city ordinance; it’s also against state law. It’s considered a misdemeanor. Up until now, the city has prosecuted suspects under the ordinance, but now they say they simply don’t have the resources.  By repealing the ordinance, the District Attorney would be forced to prosecute suspected batterers at the state level. Throwing a wrench in this seemingly simple plan, however, is the fact that District Attorney Chad Taylor announced in September that he would no longer be prosecuting misdemeanors.

The Topeka city council has received hundreds of emails and phone calls protesting the repeal of the ordinance. But many on the council stand by their decision saying that the DA will have no choice but to prosecute if they refuse.

Taylor’s announcement last month to stop prosecuting misdemeanors came when the county cut his budget by 10%. He said he simply didn’t have the resources necessary to work these less serious cases when his funds were cut. But the city doesn’t have the resources either.

Officials on both sides say that domestic abusers will not walk away unpunished. “The question is who prosecutes them, the municipal court or the district court, and who pays for it, the city of the county, or a combination,” says Mayor Bill Bunten.

In response to the fight over who has to handle the cases, coverage has been plentiful. The National Organization for Women (NOW) has spoken out and planned protests in opposition to the repealed ordinance. It isn’t clear if they truly believe this issue is best handled at the city level or if they believe the repeal would simply send the wrong message.

Time will tell how the story pans out and who ends up holding the responsibility of prosecuting these cases. But it’s not likely that battery cases will get swept under the rug entirely.

If you are accused of domestic assault and battery, whether in Topeka or Johnson County, contact me for legal help.


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