Iowa attorney general advocates for increased penalties in cases of law enforcement assaults

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is urging lawmakers to consider a bill that would increase penalties for individuals who assault law enforcement officers or first responders.

According to Bird’s summary, the proposed legislation aims to elevate the offense of assaulting a first responder or law enforcement officer with a weapon. Under the bill, this act would be classified as a “C” felony, carrying a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Currently, this offense is considered a “D” felony, with a maximum penalty of up to five years. Additionally, the bill seeks to reclassify the assault on law enforcement or first responders with the intent to cause serious bodily harm as a “C” felony as well, upgrading it from a “D” felony.

The attorney general suggests that individuals who assault a first responder or law enforcement officer should be charged with a “D” felony, rather than an aggravated misdemeanor.

According to Bird, law enforcement often does not receive the recognition they deserve, especially from convicted criminals or individuals they apprehend. In their filed legislative summary, Bird explains that law enforcement officers face derogatory remarks, inappropriate gestures, verbal abuse, and various forms of assault on a regular basis. The purpose of this bill is to assert authority and enhance the consequences for assaults on law enforcement and first responders, sending a strong message to offenders.

Spitting could potentially be considered an assault against jailers or other corrections staff, joining the ranks of bodily fluids that are deemed offensive. As per Iowa law, this proposed legislation would elevate spitting at law enforcement or first responders to an aggravated misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of two years.

According to the summary of the bill, Bird stated that it is not acceptable for individuals who have been convicted of crimes or are being arrested for crimes to assault members of law enforcement or first responders by spitting, hitting, or engaging in any other violent behavior.

The 2024 legislative session is set to commence on January 8th as lawmakers reconvene in Des Moines.

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