How has the strangulation bill made a difference in Rapid City? - KOTA Territory News

How has the strangulation law made a difference in Rapid City?

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Last year, South Dakota legislators passed a law making strangulation an aggravated assault. Prosecutors and domestic abuse advocates in Rapid City worked very hard to help pass the law. A year later, how has the bill made a difference?

Before last year, strangling someone would be a simple assault. A simple assault is a misdemeanor and a one year offense. Aggravated assault is up to 15 years.

Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo says the bill helps victims but also the offenders. Vargo says the most important way the law has made a difference is in the nature of the offense.  

"We charge someone with aggravated assault when they point a gun at someone because that person, that victim, has been in fear of their life. When you choke someone out and they can't breathe they are in fear of their life and to call that a simple assault was just out of place," said Vargo.

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