Va. Senate passes bill, allows assaulting LEO to be a misdemeanor in some cases

The felony charge can be downgraded if the officer isn’t hurt

By Suzie Ziegler 

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that conditionally allows an assault against a law enforcement officer and other first responders to be a misdemeanor, reported WSLS. 

Senate Bill 5032, which passed 21-15, allows the felony charge to be downgraded if the officer doesn’t suffer bodily injuries or if the suspect is physically or mentally disabled, according to the Washington Post. 

"The vast, vast, vast majorities of these bills do not involve any kind of injuries. They involve slight contact. They shouldn't be felonies," said Sen. Scott Surovell, according to WTKR

Surovell cited cases such as an autistic teenager resisting arrest, or food being thrown at an officer, the Washington Post reported.  

There are some exceptions. The assault would still be charged as a felony regardless if the assailant intentionally targeted the officer on the basis of race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, according to the bill. 

According to WSLS, the bill also removes a mandatory 6-month jail sentence for assaulting a law enforcement officer, correctional officer or other first responder. 

The summary of the bill below is provided online by the Virginia state legislature. 

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. 

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