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Strangle640x Strangulation

“Strangulation is often one of the last abusive acts committed by a violent domestic partner before murder.”

A Matter of Life and Death: The Domestic Fatality Review Team, One Life Lost as a Result of Domestic Violence is One Too Many 6 (2004)

Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence.

Abusers often use non-fatal strangulation as a tactic to terrorize and control their victims by holding over them the literal power of life and death. Research into domestic violence fatalities shows that an abuser’s attempt to strangle the victim can be a dramatic predictor of future lethality in intimate partner violence cases. Section 2718 amends Title 18 of the crimes code and allows defendants to be charged with the crime of strangulation - as well as felony charges in domestic violence cases.


Pa. Crimes Code - Section 2718

The law states that a person commits the offense of strangulation;
  • if the person knowingly or intentionally impedes the breathing or circulation of the blood of another person
  • by applying pressure to the throat or neck, or blocking the nose and the mouth of the person.
The law also explicitly states that infliction of physical injury to a victim is not an element of the offense. This means the person who is strangled does not have to have a physical injury in order for the defendant to be charged with the crime of strangulation.
Generally, the crime of strangulation is graded as only a misdemeanor of the second degree. However, it becomes a felony where the crime is committed against certain individuals or in certain situations, as listed below.

Strangulation Crime: Generally a 2nd degree misdemeanor, but...

2nd Degree Felony if committed:
  • Against an intimate partner or family/household member
  • By a caretaker against a care-dependent person
  • In conjunction with sexual violence, stalking or human trafficking
1st Degree Felony if committed:
  • While same victim has a Protection From Abuse (PFA) or Protection from @Sexual Violence or Intimidation (PSVI) order
  • By defendant using an instrument of crime (weapon)
  • By defendant with a prior felony conviction for strangulation or similar offense

WEBINAR: Strangulation & Domestic Violence: Understanding Pennsylvania's New Law (2017)

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