Friday, April 3, 2009

When Is It Assault in Alabama?

Anyone familiar with the laws of the great State of Alabama know that our judicial code is capricious. Not only do we have the second longest state constitution, our capital murder statute has the most addenda of any state.

While most assaults involving only the body (hands, feet, elbows, etc.) are misdemeanors, some specific assaults are felonies. Pictured at right is Rosie Ingram, recently sentenced to serve three years in the State Prison System for inciting an attack on a police officer. We are certainly glad that Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly is on top of this; too bad he wasn't on top of things when murderers Duwon Jones and Shawn Shapley were sentenced.

Ingram and her son committed a felony because the assault occurred on school property and the victim was a police officer. Yes, this sounds good, but let us consider these scenarios:

1. A substitute teacher incurs the wrath of a male student. If he strikes her in class on Friday, he will be tried for a felony. If he encounters her downtown the next day and then strikes her, he will be charged with a misdemeanor.

2. A police officer and an army officer on leave are walking downtown when they see a man harassing his girlfriend; both attempt to intervene. If the boyfriend strikes the police officer in his rage, it is a felony. If he strikes the army officer, it is a misdemeanor.

3. A receptionist in a physician's office is attacked over a billing error. It is a felony. A receptionist in an insurance office is attacked over a mistake in a statement, and it is a misdemeanor.

Yes, in the State's zeal to protect certain individuals in our population, it has done a disservice to others. I would suggest that the law be changed so that each assault is judged on a case by case basis. I'm not holding my breath.

What's up with this: Tonight is First Friday in Florence. We understand there will be more live entertainment than usual. Don't miss it.