Virginia Dems Want To Reduce Penalty For Assaulting A Police Officer

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Democrats in the state of Virginia are attempting to reduce the penalty for someone charged with assaulting a police officer.

As the law stands right now, it is a felony to attack a law enforcement officer in uniform:

If any person commits an assault or an assault and battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a judge, a magistrate, a law-enforcement officer … a correctional officer  … a volunteer firefighter or any emergency medical services personnel member who is employed by or is a volunteer of an emergency medical services agency or as a member of a bona fide volunteer fire department or volunteer emergency medical services agency … such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony, and, upon conviction, the sentence of such person shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement of six months.

Virginia Code § 18.2-57. Assault and battery; penalty

But, amid nationwide calls for police reform, Democrats in the state Senate want the penalty reduced to a misdemeanor.

“The deaths of [George] Floyd, [Ahmaud] Arbery and [Breonna] Taylor have awoken Americans and Virginians to long-standing problems in policing in America. After people are arrested, additional damage is done by a criminal justice system that has been streamlined to produce convictions and punishment instead of rehabilitation and justice,” Virginia Senate Democrats said in a statement according to The Daily Wire.

The Daily Wire reports the change was just one of several changes the group is calling for:

As the Fort Hunt Herald reported, “The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus’ list of proposed reforms includes:

  • Prohibit No Knock Warrants

  • Ban Sex With Individuals Arrested by Law Enforcement

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  • Prohibit Hiring of Officers Fired or Resigned During Use of Force Investigations

  • Create a Decertification Procedure for Law Enforcement Officers*

  • Ban chokeholds and strangleholds

  • Require Attempts at De-escalation Prior to Use of Force

  • Require Warnings Before Shots Fired

  • Require Law Enforcement to Exhaust All Other Means Prior to Shooting

  • Create Duty to Intervene by Fellow Law Enforcement Officers

  • Prohibit Shooting at Moving Motor Vehicles

  • Require Departments to Create a Use of Force Continuum

  • Require Comprehensive Reporting by All Law Enforcement Agencies Including Use of Force Data

  • Defelonize Assault on Law Enforcement Officer (Return to Misdemeanor Offense)

  • Cancel HB599 Funding (Virginia supplemental funding for local police departments) After Local Police Have Disproportionate Use of Force Incidents in their Jurisdiction

  • Create Local Authority for a Marcus Alert System – System to Report Acute Mental Health Crises

  • Create Local Option for Citizen Review Board Empowered to Investigate, Fire and/or Discipline Officers

  • Confirm Prosecutors’ Authority to Drop Charges*

  • Enhance Courts’ Ability to Expunge Charges for Dismissed Charges, Substance Convictions and Pardoned Offenses*

  • Prohibit Searches of Person or Vehicle Based on Odor of Marijuana Without Probable Cause for Other Offenses*

  • Prohibit Stops for Equipment Violations Not Covered by State Vehicle Inspection

  • Secondary Offense For Dangling Objects, Extinguished Tag Light, Tinted Windows or Loud Exhaust

  • Jury Sentencing Only at Option of the Accused*

  • Eliminate Commonwealth’s Right to Demand Jury Trial When Jury Trials Suspended for State of Emergency*

  • Require Agencies to Determine Cost Savings for Introduced Criminal Justice Legislation

  • Allow Earned Sentence Credit for Good Behavior During Prison*

  • Create Discretion for Compassionate Release for Terminally Ill or Permanently Disabled Prisoners*

  • Virginia Rental Assistance Fund for Families Economically Impacted by COVID

  • Require and Reimburse Localities for Postage Prepaid Envelopes for Absentee Voting*