ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
Known as “Cody’s Law,” HB 185 would classify any attempt to cause, or intentionally or knowingly cause, bodily injury to a person on the autism spectrum or with a physical or intellectual disability as an aggravated assault, graded as a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 10 years incarceration and $25,000 in fines.
HB 185 would eliminate the requirement to cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury to anyone with one of the defined disabilities in order to trigger the felony charge. This would allow prosecutors to charge a simple assault as aggravated, increasing the penalties from up to 2 years in prison for a second-degree misdemeanor simple assault to up to 10 years for a second-degree felony aggravated assault—an additional 8 years in prison.
While good intentioned, HB 185 will add to the choked reservoir of criminal offenses and enhancements that result in excessive punishment and longer terms of incarceration. Furthermore, serially expanding the aggravated assault statute undermines the fundamental distinctions between types of assault, distinctions intended to determine the severity and reasonableness of the punishment imposed.
Check the bill's status here.