ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
SB 351 (PN 341) would add ''health practitioner or technician'' to the list of 38 officers or employees to Pennsylvania's aggravated assault statute (Title 18 § 2702). For protected employment classes under this subsection, causing or attempting to cause serious bodily injury to any persons on this list while performing their duties is graded as a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. And causing or attempting to cause bodily injury or making a person fear they will suffer serious bodily injury are both graded as second-degree felonies, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Continuing to add categories of protected classes of employment to this subsection undermines the fundamental distinctions between types of assault, distinctions that are intended to determine the severity and reasonableness of the punishment imposed. SB 351 and bills like it would impose disproportionate and excessively punitive penalties for offenses which committed against anyone else, are graded as second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to 2 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Ceaselessly expanding this list would all but render the offense of simple assault meaningless. It metes out greater punishment based not on the intent or severity of the assault, but rather on the employment status of the victim.