Virginia Senate Democrats have published a list of 28 proposals for reforming the Commonwealth’s police and criminal justice systems, including a measure to downgrade the charge of assault on a law enforcement officer to a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony.
Under current law, anyone who is convicted of assaulting a law enforcement officer is guilty of a Class 6 felony and is subject to a mandatory minimum term of confinement of six months, according to Virginia code.
This same penalty applies to anyone who assaults a person they know, or have reason to know, is a judge, magistrate, prison guard, firefighter or some other criminal justice administrator or first responder.
The proposal is listed as “defelonize assault on law enforcement officer (return to misdemeanor offense).” It is just one of many proposals by the Senate Democratic Caucus that could be considered at a special session on criminal justice reform legislation planned for August 2020 in Richmond.
In 2019, one law enforcement officer was feloniously killed in the line of duty and another 1,939 were assaulted, according to data released in May by the Virginia State Police. Of those assaults, most incidents (1,327) did not result in a significant injury to the officer, but other incidents did result in the law enforcement officer sustaining minor injuries (497), major injuries (22), broken bones (7), severe lacerations (6), and potential internal injuries (4).