Crime and Courts

DC Council Overrides Mayor's Veto of Criminal Code Changes

The massive overhaul to DC's criminal code now awaits approval from Congress

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The D.C. Council voted Tuesday to override Mayor Muriel Bowser's veto of a massive overhaul to the city's criminal code.

In a 12-1 vote, the Council approved overriding Bowser's veto. Ward 8 Council Member Trayon White was the only member who supported the veto.

The new criminal code would eliminate most mandatory minimum sentences, reduce mandatory maximum penalties and allow jury trials for misdemeanors.

D.C.’s criminal code hasn’t been overhauled in more than 100 years, and after 16 years of studies and proposals, the Council unanimously approved the new criminal code in November.

But Bowser vetoed the measure in January after expressing concerns about reducing penalties for certain crimes and said it would drastically increase the burden on the court system.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser made good on her threat to veto the massive overhaul of the District’s criminal code. News4’s Mark Segraves breaks down what the new criminal code will mean for fighting crime and why the mayor vetoed the historic legislation.

"This bill does not make us safer," Bowser said.

On Tuesday, Council Chair Phil Mendelson fired back at Bowser's statement.

"That is irresponsible rhetoric and it plays into folks like the Freedom Caucus in Congress who are going to use the mayor's veto and her rhetoric against us … when this bill goes up to Congress, and that is a problem," Mendelson said.

The bill now goes to Congress for a 60-day review, where it could face obstacles in a Republican-controlled House.

If it does receive congressional approval, D.C. would begin phasing in the new criminal code in 2025. The estimated cost is about $50 million.

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