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Bill would increase punishment for assaulting first responders in Tennessee

A bill strengthening the punishment for assaulting a first responder advanced out of the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week.

House Bill 2247 expands the offenses of assault and aggravated assault against a first responder or nurse to include offenses committed against any licensed emergency healthcare provider. It also increases the mandatory minimum jail sentence for each offence.

“My purpose (with) this bill is to draw attention to the fact that evil doesn’t discriminate against only policemen,” State Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, told members of the subcommittee. “It discriminates against anybody in a uniform doing their job. We’d like to call attention to that fact… and then put evil where it belongs.”

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The legislation was prompted by a fatal shooting at a grocery store in Collierville last fall that left two people dead, including the shooter, and a dozen others injured.

According to the bill, assault of a first responder or other licensed emergency healthcare provider would be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory $5,000 fine and minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. Aggravated assault would be a Class C felony punishable by a mandatory $10,000 fine and minimum 180 days in jail.

Any aggravated assault that resulted in the death of a first responder or other licensed emergency healthcare provider would be a Class A felony. It would carry a mandatory $50,000 fine and mandatory minimum jail sentence of 15 years.

House Bill 2247 will now go to the full House Criminal Justice Committee for consideration. More information about the legislation can be found here.

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