Effective October 1, 2007:  The new law provides that a person commits domestic violence strangulation, a third degree felony, if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the other person’s nose or mouth.  (Emphasis added).

Strangulation is NOT Choking

Strangulation – is a form of asphyxia characterized by closure of the blood vessels and air passages of the neck as a result of external pressure on the neck.
(Asphyxia – is any process which deprives the tissue cells of oxygen). 
Brain Death can occur in 4 minutes!!!

Choking – Caused by an obstruction in the airway – food, inhaled vomit, etc…
Suffocation – Lack of sufficient oxygen in the air (ie, trapped in a small space)
Crush Asphyxia – Caused by pressure on the chest (ie, collapsed building or in a crowd)

3 Forms of Strangulation

  1. Hanging
  2. Ligature
  3. Manual – most common method used
    • One Hand – C Clamp
    • Two Hands - Front or from behind
    • One arm (across from front or carotid restraint)

Signs and symptoms

Neck swelling
Redness to the neck
Pain to neck/throat
Raspy/horse voice
Scratch marks
Rope/ligature burns
- * note a ligature that is soft and broad, such as a sheet or towel, will produce minimal external marking, which maybe seen as vague discontinuance bands.
Thumb print bruising
Red eyes (Petechiae and Florid Petechiae)
Nausea or vomiting
Memory deficit
Ears ringing
Head rush
Urination &/or defecation
Lung damage
– may occur as a result of vomit being inhaled during strangulation
– pneumonia may occur as much as a few days later.
If victim reports symptoms such as trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, pain or tenderness – CALL RESCUE!

If victim not transported –
Encourage victim to seek medical attention if symptoms persist
Advise victim to log symptoms
Next 24-48 hours could be very critical

Remember: What you say matters:
Discuss warning signs
Encourage victim to seek medical attention
Remind them that next 24-48 hours can be critical


This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.