What is Alina's Law?
Alina’s Law (Pennsylvania House Bill 1747) will protect victims of domestic violence by giving the court a mechanism to enforce orders for Protection from Abuse (“PFA”). Presently, a PFA is a court order which, if violated, can result in fines and imprisonment. However, there is nothing physically stopping or discouraging a defendant from violating the order, and nothing guaranteeing that law enforcement will find out about a violation. Alina’s Law will create extra protections by allowing a judge presiding over PFA cases to evaluate whether the defendant is found to present a substantial risk of (1) violating the order, or (2) committing a crime against the victim punishable by imprisonment. Based on this assessment, the judge can order that the defendant be affixed with a device that will notify the local police and the victim if the defendant violates the PFA by entering into an area from which he has been excluded by the order. This will give the plaintiff the opportunity to get to safety. Further, once the order has been violated, the defendant’s location will be tracked until the police make contact with the defendant, the police determine the defendant is no longer a threat, and/or the defendant is arrested.
Alina’s Light, Inc. will promote the passage of this legislation, and will support the implementation of the law by raising funds for the technology that must be purchased. Our mission is to do all that we can to ensure that victims are protected. We will work to improve the system that failed to protect Alina, and we will try to prevent other families from suffering like the Sheykhets. Alina attempted to use the PFA process to protect herself, and her murder has brought into light some of the serious flaws in the system.
On September 20, 2017, Alina’s ex-boyfriend broke into her home and was arrested. At this time, he was being prosecuted for another offense in Indiana County, and had been released on bond. He was again released on bond and permitted to remain in the community unsupervised. The next day, Alina filed a Petition for a PFA. The court issued a temporary PFA against her ex-boyfriend and scheduled her Final PFA Hearing for October 5, 2017. However, when Alina arrived at the courthouse on October 5, she learned that the defendant had not been served with the PFA Petition and that the case would be postponed. Later that day, he was served with the PFA Petition. Only days later, on October 8, 2017, he broke into Alina’s home and killed her.
Alina did everything in her power to escape her abuser and, like many other women, she was overlooked by a system that does not offer the protection it promises. Alina and many other women have lost their lives under a broken system. The Sheykhets are hopeful that Alina’s Law will save domestic violence victims from enduring further abuse or losing their lives to unchecked domestic violence.
Fighting for Change
On January 14, 2020, we had the honor of supporting Anita Kulik’s fight for Alina’s Law in Harrisburg. Alina’s Law, PA House Bill 1747 (formerly HB588), aims to strengthen PFAs. Our law would transform them from a mere piece of paper to a lifesaving resort for victims of domestic violence. If stricter policies were in place two years ago, Alina would still be here. Although we cannot bring her back, we hope to save many lives in her honor. Women that would otherwise also be failed by the system. Women that are doing everything right.