ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 103 (PN 73) creates a new offense, defined as intentionally or knowingly causing a law enforcement officer to come into contact with saliva or other bodily fluid by throwing, tossing, or spitting the bodily fluid or material. If an individual knew, should have known, or believed such fluid or material came from someone infected by a communicable disease, the offense is graded a felony of the third degree, punishable by 3.5–7 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. In any other instance, the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by incarceration for 2.5–5 years and up to $10,000 in fines.
HB 103 creates a new, unnecessary offense for actions that could be charged under current statute and expands the range of behavior police officers can allege to justify arrest and/or use of force. Merely causing an officer to come into contact with blood, perhaps while breaking up a fight, or saliva while arguing with an officer, is all it would take to get arrested and/or charged for the offenses created by HB 103. Compounding this concern is the communicable disease provision in HB 103, particularly in the context of COVID-19. Because COVID-19 can be transmitted by droplets, "expelling" saliva may trigger the felony enhancement if someone is yelling or speaking loudly at — or even near — an officer.