Wednesday, March 5, 2008

When assault is REALLY assault

Assault and battery is a bad thing. It is against the law. Anyone who assaults or batters someone should be properly charged and tried. That is where the judge (and possibly the jury) steps in to deliberate and decide the guilt or innocence and apply the appropriate sentence depending on the circumstances. For instance, if you assault one person standing on the street, should that be handled differently than an assault of a bus driver who is driving a bus load of fare paying customers? Perhaps so. That is why we have judges, to make "judgements". They are entrusted with the responsibility to review the facts of the case and upon a guilty verdict apply the appropriate sentence.

Ah, but here comes the House of Representatives to save the day! Judges just don't seem to have the ability to make wise judgements anymore. But they don't have to. We now have HB 5560, 5561 and 5562.

HB 5560 would:
- Create a new crime if an individual assaults and batters an employee of a public transit authority who is operating a public transit vehicle or performing duties associated with operation of such a vehicle and causes any physical injury.
- Also include an assault and battery, causing physical injury, upon an individual who is a passenger on a public transit vehicle or is entering into or existing from a public transit vehicle.
- Create a felony penalty punishable by imprisonment for up to 4 years and a fine up to $2,000.
HB 5561 would:
- Prescribe sentencing guidelines for assault or battery of a public transit employee or passenger causing injury. The felony is categorized as a "person" felony and classified as a level "F" felony.
HB 5562 would:
- Create a new crime if an individual, causing physical injury, assault and batters another who is in a location designated for use by public transit vehicles in picking up or discharging passengers. - Also include an assault and battery, causing physical injury, if the victim is in a facility or area owned or operated by a public transit authority and that is used for in providing public transportation to the general public, including a parking lot for visitors.
- Create a felony penalty punishable by imprisonment for up to 4 years and a fine up to $2,000.

It's too bad the Legislature has to micromanage criminal law and procedure. Warning to prison wardens across the state: make room in your crowded penitentiaries. The bus-driver beaters are coming.

2 comments: said...

Thank goodness the government's in Lansing to take care of this sort of business.

I'll sleep better tonight.


Anonymous said...

Rep. Hoogendyk:
The assault and battery bills aimed at bus drivers and bus stops are more reasons why the State Legislature should drop to part-time. No offense to you personally, but it's safer for citizens when our lawmakers are on recess because then, they're not in the business of meddling in citizens' affairs. Ginning up inane legislation to justify their jobs- when adequate laws exist on the books- is another pet peeve.

In the bigger picture, this is why gridlock in Washington, D.C. may not be such a bad thing.