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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sexting Laws in 50 States


As readers may remember back on June 3, 2016 I posted an action item to amend Virginia’s Child Pornography statutes so teens who consensually ‘Sext” do NOT get charged with Producing, Possessing, Solicitation or Distributing Child Pornography by overzealous Commonwealth's Attorneys. 

There is some interest amongst Virginia Legislators to work on such a proposal in 2017 or 2018 but their hesitation at the moment is stronger than their interest. 

As with most proposals I’ve made over the years one of the first questions I’m asked by Legislators is...What are they doing in the other states? 

Well some States have made ‘Sexting’ a misdemeanor instead of a felony and that’s NOT a better solution. If there is no force, threat, intimidation, extortion or mass emailing/posting online of the images then I don’t believe any criminal charges should be filed. That’s why I believe an age-gap allowance like in Virginia’s Carnal Knowledge statute will make sure only age-appropriate relationships are excluded from prosecution for consensual Sexting. But I also don’t think 18, 19 and 20 year old in age-appropriate relationships should face criminal charges either and we need to include them in any Virginia Bill/proposal and that seems to be a sticking point for many Virginia Legislators. They usually don't want to see a 16 year old convicted who is in a relationship with a 14 or 13 year old ...............but they completely hesitate to protect any 18 or 19 year old who is in a relationship with a 16 or 17 year old, and they shouldn’t! 

I know when I was 16 and 17 years old I was dating 18, 19, and 20 year olds there isn’t anything wrong with that and those who attempt to spin similar relationships into a perverse acts need to look within and determine why do they view a 16 and a 19 year old or a 17 and a 20 year old dating, as predatory.

Age-gap proposals have been made by experts in the juvenile field. Some suggest a 3-year and some suggest a 4-year age gap being added to State Child Pornography statutes and none of them suggest we stop at the age of 17 (juveniles) to criminalize the 18, 19 or 20 year olds. 

Here are a few recent books on the topic:
·         Sexting and Young People by Thomas Crofts , M. Lee , A. McGovern and S. Milivojevic
·         Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age: Considerations for Clinicians, Legal Professionals and Educators by Fabian Saleh, Albert Grudzinskas and Abigail Judge
·         Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent (Feminist Media Studies) by Amy Adele Hasinoff
·         Sexting and Cyberbullying: Defining the Line for Digitally Empowered Kids by Shaneen Shariff
·         Refining Child Pornography Law: Crime, Language, and Social Consequences (Law, Meaning, and Violence) by Carissa Byrne Hessick 

So…..what do the other 49 States do when it comes to consensual teen Sexting?  

A Virginia Legislator did ask me this recently so as I’ve done with many other issues..... I went looking for the requested data….and I quickly found, no one had a complete or current list/chart for all 50 States. So as I have done many times before I decided to compile the data that's out there into one chart. The most important information I was looking for ‘age-gaps’ turned out to be non-existent. I don’t know if this means States are NOT using age-gaps OR if the data I was able to locate just doesn’t mention them.
 
Below is a 50 State Teen Sexting Chart, divided into 4 parts to fit on this blog. I am not claiming it’s perfect and I know it’s not complete. If anyone sees an error or has any updates for their State, please email me MaryDavyeDevoy@comcast.net 
 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Michigan Sex Offender Restrictions ARE Punitive and Retroactive Laws Passed by Legislature DO Violate Ex Post Facto

 
If I hadn’t joined Twitter back in April I wouldn’t have seen Professor Corey Rayburn Yung’s tweets about this BIG decision today! 

A heads up to the Virginia Legislature! 

Today the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with two points I’ve been making for 8 years here in Virginia. Our Register Sex Offender restrictions (loitering, residency, employment, date changes, etc) are 100% punitive AND when the Legislature passes new RSO laws every year if the Legislature doesn't
include a start date so then the VSP applies them retroactively to existing RSO's that's a Constitutional violation!

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruled that:
  1. Michigan’s Sex Offender Restrictions ARE Punitive, not simply administrative
  2. Michigan’s Retroactive Laws against Registered Sex Offenders Passed by Legislature over the Years DO Violate Ex Post Facto
 The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals covers:
Mary Devoy 

JOHN DOES #1–5; MARY DOE v. RICHARD SNYDER, Governor of the State of Michigan http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/16a0207p-06.pdf 
“SORA brands registrants as moral lepers solely on the basis of a prior conviction. It consigns them to years, if not a lifetime, of existence on the margins, not only of society, but often, as the record in this case makes painfully evident, from their own families, with whom, due to school zone restrictions, they may not even live. It directly regulates where registrants may go in their daily lives and compels them to interrupt those lives with great frequency in order to appear in person before law enforcement to report even minor changes to their information”.


News Articles/ Blog Posts on this Court Decision: 

Judges Are Starting to Question Overzealous Sex-Offender Laws, August 29, 2016

Editorial: Court takes step to rein in sex registry, August 29, 2016

The Perverse Penalties of Leper Lists, August 31, 2016
A federal appeals court finds little evidence that the burdens imposed by sex offender registries are justified.

The 6th Circuit Finally Said The Magic Word: Punitive, August 27, 2016

Michigan Sex-Offender Law Denied Retroactivity, August 26, 2016

Court says Mich. sex offender registry laws creating ‘moral lepers’, August 26, 2016

6th Circuit Says Mich. Sex Offender Registry Is Punitive and, Not Incidentally, Stupid, August 26, 2016
Concluding that retroactive application of the law is unconstitutional, the appeals court also questions its rationality.

Appeals Court Issues Scathing Ruling Against Michigan Sex Offender Penalties, August 26, 2016

The Volokh Conspiracy: Court voids state sex offender registry for imposing unconstitutionally retroactive punishment, August 25, 2016

Court: Michigan sex offender rules can’t be retroactive, August 25, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shame on Richmond Times Dispatch Reporter Ali Rockett! He Used VSP Registry Information that is Immaterial to the Issue to Hype His Story While Also Shaming a Virginia Business Who Hired an RSO


Update Post 08/18/16: 

Around 12 noon
The Daily Progress removed everything Sex Offender related from the online article including the employer but the print version that went out was the full RTD article. Still it's something.

Thank you Daily Progress!

Mary 

5:35AM
The Daily Progress reprinted the RTD article Police: Sex offender led trooper on high-speed chase in Louisa http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/crime/police-sex-offender-led-trooper-on-high-speed-chase-in/article_76d13e0b-92ec-5201-9b0f-d902388a46d0.html so they received the same email from me this morning.
 
Mary
 
Original Post 08/17/16:

Mr. Ali Rockett, 

I read your article online State police ID motorcyclist who led trooper on high-speed chase in Louisa as sex offender from Surry http://www.richmond.com/news/local/central-virginia/louisa/article_1bbedeb5-18f8-5420-baba-accaf1ebecc0.html early this morning and I’ve stewed about it for 6+ hours. It was Tweeted late last night and Facebooked two hours ago by RTD. 

I know nothing about Justin Eugene Abney. I am not defending him, his past convictions or his recent actions on his motorcycle in Louisa Co. It’s good that he’s been identified so he can be held accountable for his dangerous/reckless driving.

But two parts of your article are really bothering me. 

1. What does his posting on the VSP Registry have to do with being sought for a motorcycle incident? If you were able to determine he had been convicted of an assault, robbery, drug, DUI or even murder back in 2005, would you have felt the need to include that in your recent RTD article? I am actually thinking you wouldn’t have. But because the VSP Registry is right there w/ all the details, you thought what the heck ‘Sex Offender’ in my title will catch more reader’s attention.  

His conviction in 2005 has nothing to do with the on-going issue in Louisa and including it in your piece was pure sensationalism. 

2. Why did you feel the need to post his employers information?  

Did you know that only 6 States in the entire U.S. post the employer/company name and the full address of their RSO’s online and that Virginia is one of those 6?

 

Friday, August 12, 2016

VA-DMV Fails to Prepare for New Law (2016's SB666/HB1190) So I Might be Required to Pay Late-Fee, My Husband Could Face a Felony & 13 Other Virginians Will be Humiliated


Because the Virginia DMV failed to prepare for the new law that passed through the Virginia Legislature unanimously passed I might be looking at a late-fee, my husband could be facing a felony and 13 other Virginians will be publicly humiliated or unnecessarily enraged in the near future. 

  • On March 1, 2016 Virginia Governor McAuliffe signed SB666-Senator Dick Black into law.
  • On March 11, 2016 Virginia Governor McAuliffe signed HB 1190-Delegates Tag Greason/Marcus Simon into law.
Ø       This new law prohibits the Virginia DMV from issuing to Registered Sex Offenders special license plates relating to children or children's programs or with revenues paid to funds for the benefit of children or renewing the registration for a vehicle that has been issued such license plates.

  • The Virginia DMV knew 4 months before they became law on July 1, 2016 of the 19,869 Children’s Charity Specialty License Plates in circulation 14 were owned or co-owned to someone listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry.
  • On Thursday July 14, 2016 I received my VA-DMV registration renewal for my 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee which is due in August. My husband is a co-owner and he is a Non-Violent RSO. The DMV renewal I received was standard so I went ahead and paid the fee mailing it off on July 20th. I expected one of two things to occur.
    1. I’d get a letter in the mail any day stating that my renewal was sent in error because my husband is an RSO and it would explain what  SB666 and HB 1190 meant in regards to my current Kid’s First Specialty Plate and that I’d be receiving a standard-plate in the mail before the end of August unless I wanted to select a new specialty-plate at a DMV location.
    2. I’d receive a standard Virginia license plate and be told it replaces my Kid’s First Specialty Plate on September 1st because my Kid’s First Specialty Plate had been revoked since  SB666 and HB 1190 had become law on July 1st  AND there’d be a refund for the difference in cost for a standard-plate and a specialty-plate.
  • Three weeks passed since I mailed off my VA-DMV renewal and payment, no letters, no replacement plate and no phone calls.
  • On Friday August 12th I received a letter (it’s above) dated August 5th and post-marked August 9th that included my payment and my completed re-registration form. The letter said I must select a new License Plate BUT it did not give ANY explanation why. There is no notation of the new Virginia law banning Registered Sex Offenders from owning a License Plate that benefits a Children’s Charity.  But the letter does tell me that if I don’t select a new plate before the end of August I will be responsible for a $10 late fee. 

The VA-DMV had 4 months to figure out who the 14 license plates belonged to and when their next re-registrations were due before the law took effect, but they didn’t. 

When the VA-DMV finally took the necessary steps they don’t even tell the owners why their license plate must be replaced. Those 13 owners (7 of which have co-owners who are NOT RSO’s) are either going to call the DMV phone number or walk-in to a DMV location with this letter not knowing about the new law and a DMV employee is going to tell them it’s because they or their loved one who is a co-owner is a Registered Sex Offender, nice huh? That won’t create a public spectacle, perhaps some tears or even curse words. 

So now I have 13 business days to get to a DMV location and buy a standard Virginia license plate so I don’t face a late-fee because the VA-DMV couldn’t get their act together. 

But wait it gets better! 

Within 3 days (not 3 business days) of placing a new license plate on MY vehicle, per Virginia law my husband must go in-person to a Virginia State Police Barracks which are only open Mon-Fri 8:30am to 4pm to tell them the old plate is void and what the new plate numbers/letters are. Because RSO’s can’t call in data changes to the VSP, they can’t email data changes to the VSP and the VSP doesn’t have an electronic re-registration system. So my husband must find time during work hours to get to a VSP Barracks because if he doesn’t……..he’ll face a felony. 

This is how myth-based, anti-Sex Offender laws that sail through the Virginia Legislature with no facts but plenty of fear-mongering actually get handled by the State after our elected-officials declare victory. 

Mary Devoy

  
Past Posts on VA Bill’s  SB666, HB1190 and HB305:


 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Action Item: Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses and Juveniles from the Public Virginia Sex Offender Registry AND Scrap Our 2-Level Conviction-Based Classification System for a 3 or 4 Level Risk-Based System


#4 and #14 of my 28 Legislative Fixes (or Goals) have now been rolled together under Goal #4 part one and part two. 

Officially Goal #8 (Legislative Fixes) could/should also be rolled into #4 too, but at this time I’m leaving it separate.
 

Virginia Legislative Goal #4

Part 1) Virginia Needs a 3 or 4 Tier/Level Risk-Based Classification System for our Registered Sex Offenders. 

Virginia currently has a meaningless 2-Tiered Conviction-Based Classification System, Non-Violent or Violent. 

A Risk-Based classification system would identify those who pose a real threat to society instead of classifying them on a conviction which was mostly likely downgraded with a plea agreement (more than 94% of criminal convictions in Virginia are settled with a plea deal). So today a real-threat could be currently classified as Non-Violent because they pled to a misdemeanor instead of the original felony they were facing but a mental review of the same offender could conclude they are in fact a high-risk to reoffend. 

A Risk-Based classification system would take some time and money initially but in the long run it would save the Commonwealth millions of dollars because everyone would not be treated the same, more resources would be directed toward the higher risks whereas today they do not receive heightened monitoring. Other States have made the switch, so it can be done. 

3 Tiers/Levels would assist the public in deciphering between the Offenders, today they really can’t. 

Proposed System:
·         Tier/Level 1 would be the lowest risk to reoffend and could automatically be removed after 10 years of compliance
·         Tier/Level 2 would be a moderate risk to reoffend and could petition for removal after 15 or 20 years of compliance
·         Tier/Level 3 would be the highest risk to reoffend and would be registered for life 

A few states have 4-8 Tiers/Levels; this could be a possibility for Virginia too AND some States classify those who are and were civilly committed as Sexually Violent Predators (SVP’s) on their Registry. Today Virginia does not note who was previously civilly committed as an SVP, I think we should. 

Virginia civilly commits our SVP’s based on risk, but yet we classify our RSO’s on their conviction we should be consistent and base everything on risk. 

It’s Time to implement a 3-Level/Tier (or more) Risk-Based Classification in Virginia! 

Part 2) Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses AND Juveniles from the Public Sex Offender Registry. 

Many states do not require misdemeanors to even register and other states have a private registry for misdemeanors that is only accessible by law enforcement. A misdemeanor is not supposed to follow someone for life, but with a public registry it does. Inclusion of all offenses overburdens the system and dilutes the registry to a point where society cannot differentiate between plausible threat and a non threat. 

The Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA does NOT require public registration for misdemeanor offenses nor do they require public registration for   juveniles.
 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Virginia Forces 16 Year Old to Register as Violent Sex Offender (for Life) on Public VSP Registry for Crimes that Don’t Mandate Juvenile Registration


I rarely post followers/supporters email’s or stories for many reasons that I won’t go into at this time. 

But about 2 weeks ago I received an email that bothered me so much I immediately shared the details with the Virginia Legislators and Administration and then made two requests to change Virginia law. 

As I finish my 50 State Juveniles Sex Offender chart  hoping to post it later this week with an action item I’ve decided to share the email I received two weeks ago. 

The below has been edited to protect the sender’s identity: 

Ms Devoy 

I would like to thank you for your webpage.  It has been very informative.  Our son, who is 16, was placed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry in ________ and is still currently in DJJ, hoping to be home by _________.  My wife and I are completely devastated and worried about his future.   

My wife found your post with the link leading to the Regulations.gov on June 9th and we were able to submit comments before the deadline.  Thank you for this.   

I cannot believe he will pay by registering for the rest of his life for something that happened a week after his 16th birthday.  We are here for him and always will be because the challenges he is facing (college, career, social) in young adulthood and beyond are scary and seem hopeless.  I have heard the defeated and hopeless words come from him.  We keep encouraging trying to find bright spots but it is hard.  He really won’t feel the impact until he is released.  He is doing what he is supposed to do and taking advantage of what is offered there.  Even the staff and parole officers know he is a "fish out of water".   

These young people do not deserve to pay for the rest of there lives.  We let drug dealers and persons that have caused fatal accidents while under the influence out of jail with no registry.  Why are teenagers singled out for their lives?  If they have paid their debt, than they should be allowed to continue with growing up and become productive members of society. 

I would like to offer any help that I can.  This is such a new and complicated subject matter for us, we really don't know what to do.

Thank you again for the work that you are doing. 

In Virginia registration as a Sex Offender for a juvenile is supposed to be decided by the judge for ONLY THREE crimes Rape, Sodomy and Object Sexual Penetration. Any Juvenile mandated to register in Virginia is classified as Violent (as opposed to Non-Violent) which makes them a ‘Lifer’ with no opportunity to ever be removed. 

Some Virginia Delegates and Senators have been to know to claim while attempting to increase juvenile registration mandates at the annual General Assembly session that......... only the “worst-of-the-worst juveniles convicted of one of the “Big 3” crimes are given the label Sex Offender in the Commonwealth. 

I decided to look the 16 year old up expecting to find one of the “Big 3” crimes but instead he was convicted of:
Ø       18.2-67.3           Aggravated Sexual Battery
Ø       18.2-386.1        Unlawful creation of image of another
Ø       18.2-374.1         Production, publication, sale, financing, etc., of child pornography; presumption as to age
Ø       18.2-374.1:1     Possession, reproduction, distribution, solicitation, and facilitation of child pornography; penalty 

Aggravated Sexual Battery is NOT supposed to be a registerable offense for juveniles in Virginia. 

A child produced and possessed child pornography; this is NOT how the Virginia Child Pornography statutes were intended to be used.  
 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Man with Autism Asking Virginia's High Court to Hear his Appeal in Sex Assault Case, By Frank Green

I’ve been emailing the Virginia Legislators about Autistic Virginian’s being wrongly accused, incorrectly convicted and mandated to register for life for 5+ years. 

Here are some past posts about Autistic RSO’s since I started this blog in 2013 for anyone interested in the topic.
Mary Devoy


Man with autism asking Va.'s high court to hear his appeal in sex assault case, August 7, 2016
By Frank Green

Did a Chesterfield County judge fail to properly take into account a man’s Asperger syndrome when the defendant stood trial for sexual assault? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2 Virginia Delegates Running for Open Virginia Senate Seats This November Vacated Their House Seats on August 2nd to Allow for Special Elections in November 2016 for Their Old House Seats Instead of in January 2017




Back on July 13th I posted about 2 Virginia Senate seats “Special Elections” this November for two current members of the Virginia House that if they win will mean a Special Election in January 2017 to fill the two vacant Virginia House seats. Also on July 13th  I posted about all the Virginia candidates running for US Congress which includes 3 current State Legislators who if they are elected to Congress in November we’d have 3 other vacancies  for a Special Election in January 2017. 

Yesterday on August 2 two Virginia Delegates (both running for Virginia Senate) decided to step-down from the Virginia House positions immediately to allow for replacements to run for election in November instead of delaying it until January 2017. If I wasn’t following the Governor on Twitter https://twitter.com/GovernorVA/status/760569393491435525/photo/1 , I would never have heard about it as this news did not go out in a Governors email announcement. 

So………… two more State Special Elections will be held on November 8, 2016, for a total of 4. 

Virginia Delegate Monty Mason’s 93rd District VA House seat includes:
Ø       James City County (part)
Ø       York County (part)
Ø       City of Newport News (part)
Ø       City of Williamsburg 

Virginia Delegate Lionel Spruill Sr ‘s 77th District VA House seat includes:
Ø       City of Chesapeake (part)
Ø       City of Suffolk (part) 

The candidates for these 2 District’s are yet to be determined but when they are known I will post about them so those of you who live in these Districts can learn about the candidates and go vote on November 8th! 

Mary Devoy

August 2016 Hysteria…. it isn’t related to the Presidential Campaign it’s PokémonGo and Registered Sex Offenders


For anyone who follows me on Twitter or regularly checks the In the News page of this blog you already know what the last 6 days in New York State has been all about. How quickly do you think Virginia will hop on this bandwagon? 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

NY Times: Punishment That Doesn’t Fit the Crime By Eric Berkowitz


Opinion: Punishment That Doesn’t Fit the Crime, July 30, 2016
By Eric Berkowitz

San Francisco — When Matthew Grottalio was 10 years old, he and his older brother initiated a touching “game” with their 8-year-old sister. “None of us knew what we were doing,” he said, and he soon forgot about the episode. But later that year, 1998, his sister’s teacher found out and notified the authorities. Just weeks after Matthew’s 11th birthday, police officers handcuffed him outside his fifth-grade classroom. 

Matthew and his parents agreed to a guilty plea in exchange for two years of probation, which he spent in a foster home. (His brother also pleaded guilty.) When he returned to his family, they were stunned to learn that he was listed on the Texas sex offender registry website, and would be for 10 years. He was just 13 years old. Neighbors threw a Molotov cocktail at his house and shot and killed his family’s dog. Local newspapers listed him by name along with adult sex offender “monsters” in the area. 

He soon “hated life, hated everybody.” Their sons’ ordeals shattered their parents’ marriage of two decades. Matthew dropped out of high school, ran away, was homeless for two years, sank into drugs and served time for burglary and parole violations. 

His decade on the registry had ended by 2011, but internet searches continued to show him on the list — and still do. Even worse, his parole included restrictions suitable to a serial child rapist. He was barred from any unsupervised and unapproved contacts with people under 17, and from any contact with his sister, who was by then an adult. (She says she never considered him a threat.) He also was barred from contact with the children of the woman he married in 2013. Even contact with the baby the couple had together was in limbo until he passed a sex offender evaluation.
 

PROTECT’s Virginia Child Protection Accountability System is Intentionally 'Hazardous' to Virginia Judge’s Careers

PROTECT (which is based out of Tennessee) has favorite Virginia Legislators to get Their Legislation proposed at the annual VA General Assembly session for their Legislative Liaison Camille Cooper (who resides in VA). 

This is the same organization who’s PROTECT Act in Washington D.C. has allowed for administrative warrants for sexual charges across the country and who lobby for Alicia’s Law from state-to-state. 

They take great pride in strong-arming, having their supporters flood Legislators phone lines, and shaming Legislators in Committee meetings and to the media who don’t immediately side with PROTECT. PROTECT’s supporters regularly leave Facebook messages suggesting death by the States or by the public, physical castration and forced organ donation for RSO’s and PROTECT allows such vigilante and criminal comments to remain on their site. PROTECT itself has gleefully stated that RSO’s who are sent to prison will get what’s coming to them by being raped by other inmates. Nice, huh? 

Since starting this blog in 2013 I have mentioned Camille Cooper a few times:
Ø       November 5, 2015            http://goo.gl/Kd1ZEX
Ø       August 29, 2015                http://goo.gl/IdJ5Mi
Ø       April 25, 2014                     http://goo.gl/KM9UbY
Ø       December 8, 2013            http://goo.gl/M4KVsT 

Well a few years back (in 2012) PROTECT got a Bill passed to create the Virginia Child Protection Accountability System. Everyone (Legislators, Governor, Virginia Judges, etc) knew that the data gathered from this “system” would be used against Virginia Judges by PROTECT during the Judges reappointment hearings by the General Assembly if PROTECT didn’t like the sentences being given by the judges in sex crime cases. I sat in the 2012 Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission meetings while the Judges discussed the true intent of the new law/system and I posted about those meetings on my old website which is no longer accessible. Now in 2016/2017 PROTECT is in Minnesota trying to get the same system implemented.

2 days ago on PROTECT’s Facebook page they posted a message to their supporters and then a second message the next day on how Judges have in fact changed their sentencing because of the Virginia Accountability System, not because the evidence or defendant warrant the change.