Virginia: Democrats Seek to Pass Law Making Assault on Police and Firemen a Misdemeanor Instead of a Felony

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The Virginia Senate to approve legislation that would eliminate the six-month mandatory minimum sentence for assault and battery against a police officer, judge, magistrate, prison guard, warden, firefighter, or any other emergency medical services personnel such as a paramedic. The bill says as long as there’s no “bodily injury” it’s not a felony. Democrats say the legislation does not minimize the crime of assaulting a police officer but, instead, makes a distinction between serious assaults and minor assaults. Serious physical assaults on police can be prosecuted under the state’s malicious wounding law and carry a two-year mandatory minimum sentence. Critics contend that this will signal that it is ‘open season’ on officials who maintain peace and safety, thus eroding law and order. The legislation was approved with all 21 Democrats voting in favor and 15 Republicans voting against it. It now moves to the House, where Democrats hold a 55-45 majority. -GEG

The Virginia Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting a police officer, despite strenuous objections from Republicans who said the bill disrespects police at a time when they have come under attack during nationwide protests.

Democrats, who hold a narrow majority in the Senate, said the legislation does not minimize the crime of assaulting a police officer, but instead makes a distinction between serious assaults and minor assaults.

The bill keeps the charge as a felony, but gives a judge or jury discretion to reduce it to a misdemeanor if there is no bodily injury or if someone’s culpability is slight because of diminished physical or mental capacity or a developmental disorder.

If the charge is brought as a felony, it requires an investigation by a different police officer and must be approved by a Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Critics of the current law say police overuse the charge, particularly in cases where they fear the person they arrested will claim police brutality. The enhanced penalty for assaulting law enforcement officers also applies to judges, magistrates, corrections officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel.

Sen. Scott Surovell, who proposed the bill, said it is not meant to address serious physical assaults on police, which can be prosecuted under the state’s malicious wounding law and carry a two-year mandatory minimum sentence.

“What we’re talking about here are situations that involve much more insignificant minor touches,” Surovell said.

Republicans, however, said they worried about the timing of the bill, citing the nationwide protests and violent clashes between police and protesters since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“What in the world are we doing?” said Sen. John Cosgrove Jr. “Have you seen the attacks on police officers?”

Sen. Amanda Chase called the legislation “an attack on our law enforcement” and said it sends a message to criminals “that we’re going to stand back.”

Read full article here…

Additional source:

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/08/30/nolte-virginia-dems-declare-open-season-cops-judges-firefighters-prison-guards-senate-vote/

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