SB 5032 Assault and battery; penalty.
Introduced by: Scott A. Surovell
SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED: Assault and battery; penalty. Eliminates the mandatory minimum term of confinement for an assault and battery committed against a judge; magistrate; law-enforcement officer; correctional officer; person directly involved in the care, treatment, or supervision of inmates; firefighter; or volunteer firefighter or any emergency medical services personnel and provides that such crime can no longer be committed as a simple assault and must result in a bodily injury.
What is that about? Let look at some quotes of the news media. Then we will end with a question.
RICHMOND — 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. (continued here (pilotonline.com))
State Senator Scott Surovell is, of course, advocating for the change.
Is punching an officer the same as an officer being hit by an onion ring? Today in Virginia, both offenses are a felony that carry a mandatory six months in jail. Such is the logic of mandatory minimum sentences.
This past month, Senate Democrats offered a series of police and criminal justice reform proposals. This included making assault and battery involving a law enforcement officer victim a felony only if the victim experiences a visible injury, while keeping malicious wounding and murder felonies available for more serious injuries. Several conservative commentators have tried to argue this somehow attacks police — they are wrong. (continued here (richmond.com))
Nevertheless, the proposal is controversial, especially because of the timing.
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) – As state lawmakers consider criminal justice reforms, one of the most controversial is a proposal that would modify the penalty for assaulting a police officer.
Wednesday, members of the Virginia Senate voted to eliminate the mandatory minimum sentence.
The death of George Floyd and the unrest that followed in the streets of many American cities focused attention on police reforms. (continued here (wdbj7.com))
One news outlet compared the change to defunding the police.
According to the Loudoun Times, the bill passed despite Republican objections that the bill would minimize acts of terror targeted at police as law enforcement units nationwide bear the brunt of historic animosity and anarchic calls to defund their departments. Several local governments have already opted to either completely dismantle their law enforcement agencies such as Minneapolis where rioting erupted again Wednesday, or to axe funding to redirect it to other programs. New York City cut $1 billion from its police budget earlier this year. (from here (thefederalist.com))
Another news outlet emphasized that the proposed change is one of many.
Virginia Democrats are proposing a long list of criminal justice reforms in response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, but while some of them – such as banning chokeholds – are aimed at protecting citizens, at least one measure could reduce protection for officers. (continued here (foxnews.com))
Another noted the ridiculousness of the controversy.
How anti-law enforcement are Democrats becoming? This hostile. A bill passed the Virginia Senate along a party line vote to reduce penalties for assaulting cops, prison guards, and other law-enforcement officials.
If one commits an assault and battery because of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and the other usual categories, it is deemed a felony requiring a minimum sentence of six months in jail. (continued here (nationalreview.com))
This is not a good time to be a police officer. In recent years many news media outlets have demonized the police. Yet no serious investigation has revealed a pattern of racial discrimination by the police. The perception exist, but the perception is false. Therefore, the attempt by some in the news media to demonize the police doesn’t make sense. That leaves us with a simple question. Are the folks the Virginia Senate making us safer or jeopardizing our safety by making it less safe to work in law enforcement or as any kind of emergency medical services personnel?