RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia House committee voted Tuesday to kill a Democratic-backed bill that would have given judges and juries the discretion to reduce the charge of assault and battery on a law enforcement officer from a felony to a misdemeanor if the officer is not seriously hurt.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax), would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentence for assault and battery charges against police, judges, magistrates, correctional officers and firefighters, which is currently six months in jail.

Surovell argued that the felony assault charge is too harsh of a penalty as it is frequently used in encounters that are inconsequential. While the charge remains to be a felony, the measure gives a judge or jury the power to reduce it to a misdemeanor if the incident did not result in a bodily injury.

The House Courts of Justice Committee on Tuesday approved a suggestion from Del. Jeff Bourne (D-Richmond) to have the Virginia State Crime Commission study the legislation, a motion that essentially killed the bill for the special session.

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