05232019CM0422SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) voted Friday to pass legislation that would impose harsher penalties on individuals convicted of assault or battery in places of worship.

Under House Bill 38, any crime of assault or battery committed in a place of worship is automatically elevated to the offense of aggravated assault or battery.

Under Illinois law, aggravated assault is a Class A misdemeanor and aggravated battery is a Class 3 felony. The change would allow a court to impose a more severe sentence on an individual convicted of one of these offenses.

“I can’t think of any place where you should have more peace of mind about your safety than your place of worship,” Manar said. “The recent instances of violence in churches around the country has been sickening and it’s my hope that this legislation will prevent these tragedies from happening here in Illinois.”

The legislation also provides that a person commits the offense of unlawful use of a weapon, a Class 2 felony, if he or she carries a firearm with the intent to harm someone in a place of worship.

House Bill 38 passed the Senate unanimously. It will now return to the House for concurrence before awaiting the governor’s signature.

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