Monday, December 30, 2013

Action Alert: Virginia Bills SB454-Senator Mark Obenshain AND HB235- Delegate Rob Bell - Would Both be Applied Retroactively to Those Affected, Denying Them Due Process and Violating Ex Post Facto

Update January 10, 2014: 
Companion Bill SB454 has the same issue as I notified you all of below for the House version. 
Original Post:
A new bill that posted today in LIS for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session requires immediate attention. 

HB235 proposed by Delegate Rob Bell does NOT have a start date of July 1, 2014; this means as currently written this proposed mandate to register as a Violent Sex Offender for life would be retroactive not just beginning for those convicted on or after July 1, 2014. So anyone convicted in 2010, 2005, 2000, 1997 or maybe even earlier would be denied due process if this bill remains as-is and becomes law.  

These “New” Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) would now be required to abide by the ever changing and expanding restrictions and regulations imposed upon Virginia’s RSO’s and any slip up no matter how minor or unintended carries a Felony charge. A new felony charge is NOT just an administrative change, it is 100% punitive. 

How many of these “New” RSO’s who have not committed a new crime in years or even decades would now receive a certified letter to register every 90 days, would now need a VSP Compliance Officer to visit their residence twice a year and confirm their employment every time it changes, to take their photo every two years plus all the address, phone number, vehicle and email additions and subtractions over then next 20, 30, 40 or 50 years will there be? A fiscal impact statement with an actual count of how many Virginians with an old conviction and who have re-entered society successfully years ago, is necessary to know how much more money and more resources will now be wasted on these people who paid their court order debt to society years ago and were NOT required to register or to be monitored for a lifetime. 

How many Virginians if this bill passes would not be permitted to drop off or pick up their own children or grandchildren from daycare or school? How many would now loose a job or a career they’ve held for years because their current employer won’t want to be listed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. Without a job these Virginians will not be able to provide for themselves or their family.

How many Virginians who would become an RSO will be evicted from their rental property or not be allowed to renew their lease because no landlord wants to deal with the other tenants complaining about an RSO living next door or upstairs? Without a home for themselves or their families many spouses and significant others of these "New" RSO’s will crack under the stress and leave. The support system and family dynamic for most of these Virginians will disappear as soon as this bill becomes law.  

Citizens of the Commonwealth who have not committed a new crime in years, who have the second lowest recidivism rate of all crimes, who are living their lives, supporting and raising their families will be arbitrarily penalized by this bill. The collateral consequences of registration trickle down to their spouses, their parents, their significant others, their roommates, their children, their employers and their landlords. 

I personally do not oppose a change to Virginia code adding those who solicit minor prostitutes from being required to register as an RSO. What I do oppose is the attempt to add this punitive measure retroactively. 

By not having a start date of July 1, 2014 this proposal is a violation of ex post facto. 

There are no “do-overs” for an old conviction. 

In the case of a plea agreement, the State could find itself in a Breach of Contract. 

The state can not go back in time and increase or add onto a sentence (Double Jeopardy) the state can not rewrite history, but that is exactly what is being attempted with this bill.  

July 1, 2014 must be added to HB235, otherwise the Commonwealth could face a court challenge opposing the retroactive application of such a mandate and that could then result in a snowball effect for all the other retroactive applications that occurred before 2009.

HB235 needs to be amended immediately, by adding July 1, 2014.

Email or call your one State Delegate and your one State Senator asking them to propose the amendment today!

Mary Devoy