Waco, TX (FOX 44) — A new Texas law went into effect Friday to support victims of domestic violence.
In the past, survivors of domestic violence only had two years to file for a misdemeanor assault, three years for a felony.
Now with House Bill 467 going into effect, survivors have more time to speak out.
“A felony domestic violence case, it extends it out for five years from the date of the offense and for any misdemeanor assault family violence case, it extends it out to three years from the date of offense,” said McLennan County Assistant District Attorney Gabe Price.
Price has served in McLennan County district attorney’s office for 14 years.
“We see hundreds and hundreds of domestic violence cases every year come through this office,” said Price.
Price says the new law will help his office prosecute offenders because of timeliness.
“Research has shown about 70 percent of domestic violence is never reported, and a big part that is reported in a delayed situation,” said Price.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Family Abuse Center Director Whitney Thomas says their facility saw an increase in domestic violence survivors needing help.
Three years later its shelter is still in high demand.
“We have hit a point where we have to maintain a waiting list, which we probably hit that point probably four or five times this year,” said Thomas.
The Family Abuse Center doesn’t require survivors to file a police report to receive help.
“We don’t know how an offender is going to react to someone filing a charge and so we don’t put that pressure on them to do that,” said Thomas. “But we are a resource that is there to help walk them through that process if they do decide to.”
The extended time gives survivors a chance to recover from their experience and decide if they want to press charges.
Price says the timeliness of a report can help them gather evidence and build a case allowing them to help more survivors.
“Most of the time it’s not that one isolated incident so if we have a previous incident that may still be within the statute of limitations as well, now that it’s extended, we can look at both of those together rather than just having to focus on one,” said Price.
For anyone who needs help escaping domestic violence you can call the Family Abuse Center hotline number at 1-800-283-8401.