Monday, April 17, 2017

The Way It Is… and The Way It Should Be

Many people have asked for clarification about misdemeanor penalties versus felony penalties when it comes to assault on healthcare workers. I’ve put together a simple primer that I hope will clear this up.

The Way It Is: Assault as a Misdemeanor
When the victim contacts the police, a police report is filed, but law enforcement is unable to arrest the perpetrator because they didn't visually witness the assault.

Then, law enforcement sends their report to District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s office sends the victim, and the perpetrator, a court date to meet with a court magistrate.

On that date, if the court magistrate feels it is important to see the judge, then you and the perpetrator go to court and appear in front of a judge. The judge decides if that individual receives probation, a fine, or time in a county jail.

The Way It Should Be: Assault as a Felony
When the victim contacts the police, a report is filed AND the police can arrest him or her and take him to jail if medically stable.

There is no need to appear in front of a court magistrate (hear that, nurses? Saving you from a day in court). Instead, you and the perpetrator go to court before a judge.

There is no fine, so the penalty would be sentencing to jail, Massachusetts House of Corrections, or State Prison.

However, if the DA and/or the judge do not feel the resulting injuries are significant enough to warrant felony penalties, they may choose to downgrade the crime to a misdemeanor.

The moral of the story:
Please, please, please — support felony law. In Massachusetts, we are lobbying for the passage of House Bill H795 and Senate Bill S765. Contact your State legislator (how do I find them?) and urge him or her to support passage of these Bills so that Massachusetts can be the 34th State

Sheila Wilson, RN, BSN, MPH
President, Stop Healthcare Violence
Get our ebook! The Shocking Reality of Healthcare Violence

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