Virginia Democrats have reportedly drafted a proposal which contains a long list of criminal justice reforms, including downgrading the charge of an assault on a law enforcement officer from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Under current law, assaulting a police officer is a Class 6 felony with a minimum penalty of six months in jail to a maximum of five years. Misdemeanors are only a one-year maximum and have no minimum.
The proposal, titled "Senate Democratic Caucus Police Reform and Criminal Justice Equity Plan," also includes several other changes:
- Requiring officers to de-escalate situations by issuing warnings and exhausting "all other means" before using force or firing shots.
- Canceling supplemental funding to local police departments that have a disproportionate use of force incidents in their jurisdiction."
- Prohibiting the searching of people and vehicles based on an odor of marijuana if there is no evidence of further offenses.
The Senate Democratic Caucus believes "changes must be made" sooner rather than later within the criminal justice system.
"The Senate Democratic Caucus has led in the area of Criminal Justice Reform for years and we look forward to working with the Governor and the House of Delegates to collaboratively enact these policies," the document reads.