Ohio looks poised to join New York and Washington State in increasing the penalties for assaulting judges and court staff during the 2011/2012 legislative cycle.
Under HB 52, an assault against judges, magistrates, prosecutors, or court officials or employees engaged in the performance of their duties would be automatically raised to a fifth degree felony. The bill had passed the House in mid-2011 but lay dormant in the Senate for over a year. It is now set to be sent to the governor.
Ohio’s HB 52 is similar to a new Washington law (HB 1794 of 2011) that adds to the assault in the third degree statute assaults on a judicial officer, court-related employee, county clerk, or county clerk’s employee while in they are performing their duties. Such an assault is automatically a Class C felony.
New York went a step further, creating the new, specific crime of assault on judge (AB 409 of 2011). Such an assault is automatically a Class C felony.