Friday, February 14, 2014

Action Alert: HB523- Mandating Registration of Juveniles as a Public Sex Offender for a Minimum of 10 Years Will be Heard by the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee Monday February 17, 2014 at 8AM

HB523 – Mandated Registration of juveniles as a Sex Offender for a minimum of 10 years that passed the Virginia House on Tuesday is on the Senate Courts of Justice agenda for Monday February 17, 2014. This meeting is the one and only time citizens can come to the G.A. building and speak for or against the bill in front of Senate members. 

Past posts on HB523 with bullet points and facts for you to use in your email or phone call:

Point out to the Senators that innocent Virginia juveniles like Edgar Coker Jr. accused of rape have been and still are required to register.

That Edgar’s entire family suffered greatly, that he was denied admission to Virginia colleges to obtain an education so he could have a career and not just a “job”, that he was unable to secure “a job” because no employer wants to be listed on the VSP Registry, that he had no opportunities to become a positive, productive adult because of the stigma and in the end he was innocent. That Virginia has no process in place for those who are falsely accused of rape to clear their name because of our 21 Days to Recant Rule. That it took a team of UVA attorneys 5-6 years to go to every court in the State to get justice for Edgar on the point that his original defense attorney was incompetent. NOT because the accuser (victim) admitted to the lie. What if his attorney hadn’t been incompetent? Then his case wouldn’t have been overturned because he wouldn’t have had an argument and he’d be a lifetime Registered Sex Offender. Another young life wasted because of the government sponsored public stigma of Sex Offender. 

Instead the Legislature should focus fixing these issues in Virginia instead of creating more mandates that leave judges hands tied in delivering justice in each case! 

A charge, a conviction or a plea for Rape, Forcible Sodomy or Object Sexual Penetration is NOT a guarantee of guilt! Heck object sexual penetration in Virginia doesn’t require actual penetration!  

More than 94% of criminal charges are settled with a plea deal in Virginia, NOT because of guilt but for 3 reasons.
  1. Mandatory minimums of 5 years to life in a state with no parole
  2. The inability to afford a competent attorney ($50,000+) to take the charges to trial for a jury to decide
  3. Commonwealth Attorneys stack charges to pressure a plea deal from the accused to keep their case load movingalong. A trial costs the state big bucks and lots of time, but with a plea deal the C.A’s conviction rate remains high and that’s goal #1.
The patron of HB523 likes to claim HB523 is only being applied to the “Big 3”. Well even when it comes to the “Big 3”, the facts, the evidence, the witnesses and the character of the accused needs to be weighed. 

HB523 applies to any juvenile who is 13 years- one day or older. Kids are NOT adults and they should never be treated as such by the criminal justice system or with public registration. 

Please Email or call  your Virginia Senator today and every member of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee (below), tell them to vote “NO” on HB523. 

Thank you. 

Mary Devoy 

2014- Senate Courts of Justice Committee  

Richmond, VA. During Session
Henry Marsh
John Edwards
Janet Howell                       *Also on VSCC
L. Louise Lucas
Ryan McDougle
A. Donald McEachin
Thomas “Tommy” Norment                          *Also on VSCC  
*Also on VCSC
Mark Obenshain
J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen
Toddy Puller
Richard Saslaw
William Stanley
Richard Stuart
Jill Holtzman Vogel
Jennifer Wexton