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2017 Law Update - Back the Badge - Increased Penalties for Offenses Against Public Safety Officers

Posted by Sean A. Black | Jun 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

Effective July 1, 2017, SB 160 will amend the Georgia Code to make a number of changes in relation to offenses for which the victim is a public safety officers.

Public safety officer is defined to include peace officers, correctional officers, emergency health workers, firefighters, highway emergency response operators, jail officers, juvenile correctional officers and probation officers.  

Magistrate judges will no longer be able to set bonds for (1) aggravated assault with a firearm upon a public safety officer under OCGA 16-5-21 and (2) aggravated battery upon  public safety officer under OCGA 16-5-24.

The act also limits the transfer of certain cases to juvenile court where the victim is a public safety officer.

The act provides for a number of sentencing enhancements for crimes against public safety officers, including mandatory minimums.  Some of those mandatory minimums are barred from being suspended, stayed, probated, deferred, or otherwise withheld by the sentencing court.  

In addition, there are fine requirements which are to be earmarked to the Georgia State Indemnification Fund.  

OCGA 16-10-24 deals with  obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers.

The Act greatly expands the officers covered by the misdemeanor offense to include not only law enforcement officers but prison guards, jailers, correctional officers, community supervision officers, county or Department of Juvenile Justice juvenile probation officers, or probation officers under Article 6 of Chapter 8 of Title 42, or conservation rangers.

The Act provides for enhanced punishment for repeat offenders for felony obstruction.  

It creates an additional method of committing felony obstruction to include willfully throwing, projecting or expelling human or animal blood, urine, feces, vomitus or seminanl fluid at a listed officer.  

Again, a portion of the fine is earmarked to the Georgia State Indemnification Fund.

There is an increase in the lump sum payment from $100,000 to $150,000 for certain public safety officers who die or suffer organic brain damage in the line of duty.  

About the Author

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.

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