ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
SB 814 would create two new felony offenses: (1) prohibiting evading police arrest or detention on foot; and (2) harming a police animal while evading arrest or detention; resisting arrest; or disarming a law enforcement officer.
The duplicative and unnecessary crimes created by SB 814 would add to the tsunami of criminal offenses that arm police officers with more offenses to enforce (often selectively) and allow prosecutors to stack charges against defendants to use as leverage to force plea bargains. Its ill-defined provisions would create a toxic recipe for dangerously broad charges, opening a Pandora's box of expanded police power to punish people for harm they neither intended nor committed. And most alarming, SB 814 risks criminalizing the lawful right to refuse to engage with law enforcement—an open invitation to round up young Black men and other people of color who may be legally ignoring or walking away from a police officer.