Honorable Joe Moody, Chair, House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
Ursula Parks, Director, Legislative Budget Board
HB2908 by Hunter (Relating to the punishment for a criminal offense committed against a person because of bias or prejudice on the basis of status as a peace officer; increasing a criminal penalty.), Committee Report 1st House, Substituted
The bill would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Penal Code as they relate to increasing the punishment for an offense committed against a person because of bias or prejudice on the basis of service as a peace officer. Under the provisions of the bill, certain offenses against peace officers would be enhanced to the punishment prescribed for the next higher category offense if an affirmative finding of bias or prejudice against a peace officer is found by a court during the guilt or innocence phase of a trial. The offenses subject to felony enhancement are currently punished as a state jail felony, a third degree felony, and a second degree felony. The bill would also increase the punishment for certain assaultive or threatening offenses if those offenses are committed against a peace officer. These offenses are currently punished as a Class A misdemeanor, a third degree felony, and a second degree felony. A first degree felony is punishable by confinement in prison for life or a term from 5 to 99 years; a second degree felony is punishable by confinement in prison for a term from 2 to 20 years; a third degree felony is punishable by confinement in prison for a term from 2 to 10 years; and a state jail felony is punishable by confinement in a state jail for a term from 180 days to 2 years or Class A misdemeanor punishment. In addition to confinement, most felony offenses are subject to an optional fine not to exceed $10,000. Enhancing or increasing the penalty for any offense is expected to result in increased demands on the correctional resources of the counties or of the state due to longer terms of supervision in the community or longer terms of confinement in state correctional institutions. Whether the bill would result in a significant impact on correctional populations is indeterminate due to a lack of statewide data containing the detail necessary to isolate those individuals arrested, placed under community supervision, or incarcerated for certain offenses committed against peace officers under the circumstances in which these offenses would be enhanced or increased. In fiscal year 2016, 41,786 individuals were arrested, 8,038 were placed under community supervision for a class A misdemeanor or felony, and 10,343 were admitted into state correctional institutions for the offenses subject to the bill's provisions. The enhancements and penalty increases addressed by the bill could result in a significant impact on state correctional agencies, though the impact cannot be determined.