NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Depending which dictionary you use, the word “strangulation” is often defined as fatal. But under a recent Pennsylvania law, it does not always result. And the new law is a key tool in fighting domestic abuse.
Before the state legislature changed the law in October, strangulation fell under either aggravated or simple assault. Chester County Deputy District Attorney Michelle Frei says it would be difficult to prove the much more serious aggravated assault because often there weren’t obvious injuries.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
“Unlike punching someone in the face, where you’re going to have bruising or swelling a lot of times, there’s no visible injury from strangulation, the injuries are internal,” Frei said.
Frei was instrumental in getting the new law on the books which classifies strangulation as a second degree felony when it’s against a family member.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
She says it’s important as domestic abuse never de-escalates, so once someone puts their hands around someone’s neck, the next step is often homicide.
The charge is in recent headlines, as Joseph Myrhe, the Lower Providence man accused of horrific abuse against his family, is facing five counts of strangulation, in addition to dozens of other charges.MORE NEWS: Friday Night In New Jersey Looks Like Something Out Of 2019 As Restrictions Eased
In the three-and-a-half months since the new law took effect, it has already been charged more than 100 times across Pennsylvania.