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Proposed bill would federalize offense of assault on officers

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) made headlines last week by introducing a measure known as the Back the Blue Act, which, among other things, calls for the creation of a new federal crime -- complete with mandatory minimum sentences -- addressing the assault of law enforcement officials.

Introduction of the measure, co-sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), comes at a very difficult time for our nation, which is now seeking to heal and find solutions that address the needs of all communities.

As currently written, the Back the Blue Act would make an assault upon a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer or "federally funded public safety officer" -- defined to include any police officer, jailer, probation officer or parole officer who work for agencies that receive federal financial assistance -- a federal crime.

Indeed, the law calls for the imposition of the following sentences upon conviction:

  • Assaults that do not result in any type of bodily injury: A mandatory minimum of one year in prison.
  • Assaults that result in bodily injury: A mandatory minimum of two years in prison. Here, bodily injury includes cuts, physician pain and "any other injury to the body, no matter how temporary."
  • Assaults that result in substantial bodily injury: A mandatory minimum of five years in prison. Here, substantial bodily injury includes "temporary but substantial disfigurement" or "temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member, organ, or mental faculty."
  • Assaults that result in serious bodily injury: A mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. Here, serious bodily injury would include more severe injuries, including those resulting in "extreme physical pain."
  • Assaults using a deadly or dangerous weapon: A mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison

As we'll examine in our next post, these assault provisions and their accompanying draconian sentences have generated considerable criticism in legal circles, with experts advancing several arguments against them, including that they are overly broad and wholly unnecessary given the laws already in place.

If you are under investigation or have been charged with any manner of federal crime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible as your rights, your freedom and your future are at stake.

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