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Lawmakers Want Stiffer Penalties for Police Attacks

Sep 27 2016, by Sean Hessler in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Police Brutality

For police officers, the past months have been tense to say the least. In Indiana, two officers were attacked and injured. Eight more were killed during the attacks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It seems that now more than ever, there is a sense of disdain for police officers across the country. Much of this has been fueled by seemingly unprovoked killings by a small number of police officers. These occurrences have been made famous on social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

Regardless of the motivation, threats and acts of violence are unacceptable. While the numerous murders of civilians by police need to be addressed, they do not justify aggression towards law enforcement. The majority of officers are heroes, putting their lives on the line every day to protect the public. In light of recent crimes against police, two lawmakers have introduced proposals that would enhance the penalties for police attacks.

The Proposals and What They Mean

The first proposal, which is being spearheaded by Indiana Senator Jim Merritt, would essentially act to enhance the existing penalties for certain crimes. Under this new law, threats or acts of violence towards police would result in enhanced sentences. While the state is currently allowed to enhance the penalties for certain crimes when an officer is targeted, there is no protection for police officers who are off-duty. While Merritt has not yet transformed this proposal into a bill, it will serve both on-duty and off-duty law enforcement.

The other proposal designed to protect police officers focuses on identifying and punishing threats. State Representative Wendy McNamara plans to introduce the legislation next year and believes that it will garner tremendous support. In essence, law would make it a felony to threaten an officer or a law enforcement agency. Penalties for violating this new statute would include prison time as well as steep fines. It is hoped that receiving consequences will deter criminals from posting online threats, as there are currently no legal consequences for doing so.

Recently, Louisiana introduced its groundbreaking “Blue Lives Matter” law, which makes committing an act of violence against a police officer a hate crime. Interestingly, neither of the Indiana proposals would label crimes against law enforcement as hate crimes. This is likely due to the fact that Indiana is one of five states without a single hate crime law.

Contact Hessler Law Firm

No one doubts the irreprehensible nature of attacks on law enforcement. They are public servants, fighting to end crime and keep our communities safe. In Indiana, politicians recognize that police officers need to be protected. They are making great strides in ensuring that threats and acts of violence towards police are not going unpunished.

If you have been charged with a crime of any kind, contact Hessler Law Group at (317) 886-8800. Our experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys will make sure that your side of the story is told and will fight to get your charges thrown out, if possible.