Georgia police protection bill weakens sentence for killing officer

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Andrea Young, said the new crime creates confusion over how the law will be applied.

“In its rush to silence Georgia’s demand for police accountability, the state Legislature has produced a seriously flawed bill that can substantially reduce penalties for deliberately killing a police officer,” Young said.

As part of a pledge to garner Republican support for a hate crime bill, lawmakers separately pressed House Bill 838, which creates the new crime of “bias-motivated intimidation” of a first responder, that is, police, fire, and paramedics. While the hate crime legislation was overwhelmingly passed by a bipartisan majority in the Legislature, the police protection bill passed in a party-line vote, barely receiving approval in the House.

Under the bill, anyone found guilty of death, serious bodily injury, or destruction of more than $ 500 in lifeguard property, specifically due to their occupation, would face between one and five years in prison and / or a fine of up to $ 5,000.

Currently, the punishment for murder includes death, life without parole, or life in prison.

Since the targeted murder of a police officer could be considered a “bias-motivated intimidation” of a first responder, the ACLU says a legal argument called the “leniency rule” requires courts to prosecute the charge that is most favorable to a accused.

“So if you kill a police officer in Georgia, and it’s done under the statute of intimidation motivated by prejudice, when you are sentenced you can be sentenced to between one and five years, instead of the mandatory life sentence,” said lobbyist Christopher Georgia ALCU. Bruce

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