The House of Delegates has passed a measure to increase penalties for someone who commits a crime of violence in front of a minor.
The House approved the bill 132-0 on Monday. It would apply to people who commit a violent crime in front of a minor who is at least 2 years old and younger than 16.
The measure is the top legislative priority of Attorney General Doug Gansler.
Under the bill, a person would be eligible to up to five years additional imprisonment for committing a violent crime before a minor.
Supporters say dozens of studies on child development have shown that viewing or hearing domestic violence can have a long and devastating effect on a child.
The measure now goes to the Senate.