Police with guns drawn watch as rioters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
A dozen Senate and Assembly Republicans joined forces Tuesday to introduce legislation that would sharply increase the penalties for crimes committed during a riot.
AB168 would generally raise existing misdemeanors to a gross misdemeanor and gross misdemeanors to Category E felonies — the lowest category of felonies.
But if the assault on an officer is committed with a deadly weapon, the penalty would be a Category B felony, the second most serious category of crimes after murder and kidnaping.
Under the proposed legislation, it would be a felony for seven or more people to come together to commit an unlawful assembly or riot.
The bill would also raise the penalty for the crime of harassment from a misdemeanor to a felony if committed during a riot or at a public accommodation such as a motel or restaurant.
And the bill makes it unlawful to materially support unlawful assemblies or riots.
Existing law makes it a gross misdemeanor to vandalize, graffiti, deface or otherwise damage a place of worship, cemetery, school or other education facility, transportation facility, community center. AB168 raises that crime to a felony as well if committed during a riot.
The bill makes it a felony to obstruct a road, street or alley during an unlawful assembly or riot.
Finally, it gives immunity from civil liability for people who accidentally injure or even kill people with their vehicle who are unlawfully obstructing a road, street or alley during an unlawful assembly or riot.
The primary Assembly sponsors of AB168 are Republicans Jim Wheeler, John Ellison, Jill Dickman, P.K. O’Neill and Robin Titus. The primary Senate sponsors are Pete Goicoechea and James Settelmeyer.
AB168 was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for review.