RD49 - HB 893 - Capital Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer

Executive Summary:
During the 2002 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Ryan McDougle introduced House Bill 893 (HB 893), (*1) which would amend Va. Code § 18.2-31(6), making it a capital crime to kill, with premeditation, a law-enforcement officer for the purpose of interfering with the performance of his official duties. This bill was referred to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee where it was left in Committee pending referral and study by the Virginia State Crime Commission.

As a result of the study effort, the following observation has been made concerning HB 893. While its passage would not be unconstitutional, it would be the first time that the Virginia legislature created a special class of adults, of whom any premeditated killing, would be a capital offense, in and of itself.


Because this proposed legislation would be a departure from the current scheme of Virginia’s capital crimes, it is the recommendation of the Crime Commission that this legislation not be adopted.

However, since deviation from current statutory law is a policy decision, if the legislature decides to adopt this idea for police officers, it must decide whether it will apply the law only to current police officers, or also former police officers, as HB 893 proposes. A review of the 50 states indicates that very few have decreed the homicide of former police officers to be an aggravating circumstance or a special, separate crime. If Virginia decides to adopt the provision including former police officers, then the beginning clause of Va. Code § 18.2-31(6) must be rewritten as well, in order to avoid an internal inconsistency in that subsection.
(*1) House Bill 893, 2002 General Assembly, Reg. Sess., (Va. 2002). See Attachment 1.