The governor of Louisiana recently signed a new bill into law. Dubbed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, this bill makes it a felony hate crime to commit a criminal offense against a police officer. It also extends to resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer, meaning that this new felony charge could be applied in addition to either one of these charges. Similar laws have cropped up throughout the country in response to deadly attacks on police, but Louisiana became the first state to extend minority protections to police under hate crime laws when Governor John Bel Edwards signed the bill into law last year.
How Will the Blue Lives Matter Bill Impact Police Interactions?
The Louisiana police chief has already implemented the new law, which allows a police officer to charge a person with a felony hate crime no matter what crime instigated the original arrest. According to St. Martinville’s Police Chief, a person who faces arrest for a misdemeanor crime who then resists arrest can be charged with a felony hate crime and sentenced to up to ten years in prison in addition to facing charges for the misdemeanor crime. Even a person who is wrongfully arrested and resists could be charged with a felony hate crime against the police. Although it seems like it would be one of the main tenets of the new law, there is no system by which officers can measure arrestee’s animosity toward law enforcement prior to issuing the hate crime charge.
Resisting arrest is already a charge that is relatively easy to issue. Many times police will issue this charge when a person they are trying to arrest reacts slowly to their requests or makes unexpected movements or gestures, even if they are non-threatening to the officers present. There is general concern that this new law will give police more power to accuse people of crimes and keep them in the hands of the criminal justice system for a longer period than necessary.
If you are arrested and charged with resisting the arrest or battery to a police officer, the outcome of your case heavily relies upon the expertise of a knowledgeable Louisiana criminal defense attorney. For over two decades, Eric Johnson of The John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, LLC, has stood up for the rights of those facing criminal charges throughout Louisiana. Contact us by calling 318-377-1555 or schedule a free consultation online.