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CITE

    18 USC Sec. 248                                             01/05/2009

EXPCITE

    TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
    PART I - CRIMES
    CHAPTER 13 - CIVIL RIGHTS

HEAD

    Sec. 248. Freedom of access to clinic entrances

STATUTE

      (a) Prohibited Activities. - Whoever -
        (1) by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction,
      intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts
      to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person because that
      person is or has been, or in order to intimidate such person or
      any other person or any class of persons from, obtaining or
      providing reproductive health services;
        (2) by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction,
      intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts
      to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person lawfully
      exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of
      religious freedom at a place of religious worship; or
        (3) intentionally damages or destroys the property of a
      facility, or attempts to do so, because such facility provides
      reproductive health services, or intentionally damages or
      destroys the property of a place of religious worship,
    shall be subject to the penalties provided in subsection (b) and
    the civil remedies provided in subsection (c), except that a parent
    or legal guardian of a minor shall not be subject to any penalties
    or civil remedies under this section for such activities insofar as
    they are directed exclusively at that minor.
      (b) Penalties. - Whoever violates this section shall -
        (1) in the case of a first offense, be fined in accordance with
      this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and
        (2) in the case of a second or subsequent offense after a prior
      conviction under this section, be fined in accordance with this
      title, or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both;
    except that for an offense involving exclusively a nonviolent
    physical obstruction, the fine shall be not more than $10,000 and
    the length of imprisonment shall be not more than six months, or
    both, for the first offense; and the fine shall, notwithstanding
    section 3571, be not more than $25,000 and the length of
    imprisonment shall be not more than 18 months, or both, for a
    subsequent offense; and except that if bodily injury results, the
    length of imprisonment shall be not more than 10 years, and if
    death results, it shall be for any term of years or for life.
      (c) Civil Remedies. -
        (1) Right of action. -
          (A) In general. - Any person aggrieved by reason of the
        conduct prohibited by subsection (a) may commence a civil
        action for the relief set forth in subparagraph (B), except
        that such an action may be brought under subsection (a)(1) only
        by a person involved in providing or seeking to provide, or
        obtaining or seeking to obtain, services in a facility that
        provides reproductive health services, and such an action may
        be brought under subsection (a)(2) only by a person lawfully
        exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of
        religious freedom at a place of religious worship or by the
        entity that owns or operates such place of religious worship.
          (B) Relief. - In any action under subparagraph (A), the court
        may award appropriate relief, including temporary, preliminary
        or permanent injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive
        damages, as well as the costs of suit and reasonable fees for
        attorneys and expert witnesses. With respect to compensatory
        damages, the plaintiff may elect, at any time prior to the
        rendering of final judgment, to recover, in lieu of actual
        damages, an award of statutory damages in the amount of $5,000
        per violation.
        (2) Action by attorney general of the united states. -
          (A) In general. - If the Attorney General of the United
        States has reasonable cause to believe that any person or group
        of persons is being, has been, or may be injured by conduct
        constituting a violation of this section, the Attorney General
        may commence a civil action in any appropriate United States
        District Court.
          (B) Relief. - In any action under subparagraph (A), the court
        may award appropriate relief, including temporary, preliminary
        or permanent injunctive relief, and compensatory damages to
        persons aggrieved as described in paragraph (1)(B). The court,
        to vindicate the public interest, may also assess a civil
        penalty against each respondent -
            (i) in an amount not exceeding $10,000 for a nonviolent
          physical obstruction and $15,000 for other first violations;
          and
            (ii) in an amount not exceeding $15,000 for a nonviolent
          physical obstruction and $25,000 for any other subsequent
          violation.
        (3) Actions by state attorneys general. -
          (A) In general. - If the Attorney General of a State has
        reasonable cause to believe that any person or group of persons
        is being, has been, or may be injured by conduct constituting a
        violation of this section, such Attorney General may commence a
        civil action in the name of such State, as parens patriae on
        behalf of natural persons residing in such State, in any
        appropriate United States District Court.
          (B) Relief. - In any action under subparagraph (A), the court
        may award appropriate relief, including temporary, preliminary
        or permanent injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and civil
        penalties as described in paragraph (2)(B).
      (d) Rules of Construction. - Nothing in this section shall be
    construed -
        (1) to prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful
      picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal
      prohibition by the First Amendment to the Constitution;
        (2) to create new remedies for interference with activities
      protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of the
      First Amendment to the Constitution, occurring outside a
      facility, regardless of the point of view expressed, or to limit
      any existing legal remedies for such interference;
        (3) to provide exclusive criminal penalties or civil remedies
      with respect to the conduct prohibited by this section, or to
      preempt State or local laws that may provide such penalties or
      remedies; or
        (4) to interfere with the enforcement of State or local laws
      regulating the performance of abortions or other reproductive
      health services.
      (e) Definitions. - As used in this section:
        (1) Facility. - The term "facility" includes a hospital,
      clinic, physician's office, or other facility that provides
      reproductive health services, and includes the building or
      structure in which the facility is located.
        (2) Interfere with. - The term "interfere with" means to
      restrict a person's freedom of movement.
        (3) Intimidate. - The term "intimidate" means to place a person
      in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm to him- or herself or
      to another.
        (4) Physical obstruction. - The term "physical obstruction"
      means rendering impassable ingress to or egress from a facility
      that provides reproductive health services or to or from a place
      of religious worship, or rendering passage to or from such a
      facility or place of religious worship unreasonably difficult or
      hazardous.
        (5) Reproductive health services. - The term "reproductive
      health services" means reproductive health services provided in a
      hospital, clinic, physician's office, or other facility, and
      includes medical, surgical, counselling or referral services
      relating to the human reproductive system, including services
      relating to pregnancy or the termination of a pregnancy.
        (6) State. - The term "State" includes a State of the United
      States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth,
      territory, or possession of the United States.

SOURCE

    (Added Pub. L. 103-259, Sec. 3, May 26, 1994, 108 Stat. 694;
    amended Pub. L. 103-322, title XXXIII, Sec. 330023(a)(2), (3),
    Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2150.)

AMENDMENTS

      1994 - Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 330023(a)(2), amended section
    catchline generally. Prior to amendment, catchline read as follows:
    "Sec. 248 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances."
      Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 330023(a)(3), in concluding
    provisions, inserted ", notwithstanding section 3571," before "be
    not more than $25,000".
                     EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1994 AMENDMENT
      Section 330023(b) of Pub. L. 103-322 provided that: "The
    amendments made by this subsection (a) [amending this section]
    shall take effect on the date of enactment of the Freedom of Access
    to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 [May 26, 1994]."
                              EFFECTIVE DATE
      Section 6 of Pub. L. 103-259 provided that: "This Act [see Short
    Title note below] takes effect on the date of the enactment of this
    Act [May 26, 1994], and shall apply only with respect to conduct
    occurring on or after such date."
                                SHORT TITLE
      Section 1 of Pub. L. 103-259 provided that: "This Act [enacting
    this section and provisions set out as notes under this section]
    may be cited as the 'Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of
    1994'."
                        SEVERABILITY OF PROVISIONS
      Section 5 of Pub. L. 103-259 provided that: "If any provision of
    this Act [see Short Title note above], an amendment made by this
    Act, or the application of such provision or amendment to any
    person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the
    remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and the
    application of the provisions of such to any other person or
    circumstance shall not be affected thereby."
                    CONGRESSIONAL STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
      Section 2 of Pub. L. 103-259 provided that: "Pursuant to the
    affirmative power of Congress to enact this legislation under
    section 8 of article I of the Constitution, as well as under
    section 5 of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution, it is
    the purpose of this Act [see Short Title note above] to protect and
    promote the public safety and health and activities affecting
    interstate commerce by establishing Federal criminal penalties and
    civil remedies for certain violent, threatening, obstructive and
    destructive conduct that is intended to injure, intimidate or
    interfere with persons seeking to obtain or provide reproductive
    health services."
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