Monday, March 31, 2014

Code of Virginia: New Page Added Today

After 5 hours of work I've added a new page to the right side menu (under directory).

It is Virginia Code/ Statutes for those of you who are searching for our laws. These are the legal statues and can be difficult to follow. 

For anyone who is just looking for the legal restrictions and regulations that apply to Virginia Registered Sex Offenders in easily understandable terms there is already a page with that info here.  

If anyone sees a specific Virginia statute missing from the new page that should be included please send me an email with a link to the missing statute and I will add it. 

Thank you for following this blog. 

Mary Devoy

Sunday, March 30, 2014

UVA Innocence Project: John Grisham, Edgar Coker Jr., Brian Banks and Michael Hash

Exonerated men share their sagas    By Pamela Gould              March 29, 2014

CHARLOTTESVILLE—Six weeks after being exonerated of rape and getting his name removed from Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry, Edgar Coker shared the spotlight with NFL free agent Brian Banks and novelist John Grisham. 

It was a dramatic turn of events for the former Stafford County resident who spent the past seven years shunning attention because of the label of rapist legally attached to his name. 

But in Banks, Coker found someone who understood. 

“It’s a relief to finally find someone who knows what I actually went through, being locked up for nothing. That’s special,” said Coker, 22. 

Both Banks and Coker were teens when they were accused of rape by an acquaintance. For both, it was the accuser’s recantation that started the exoneration process rolling. 

And for both, it was the work of an Innocence Project that led to their names finally being cleared. 

That’s what brought Banks, who lives in Los Angeles, and Coker, an Orange County resident, together this week and what led to them being seated on either side of Grisham on Wednesday evening for an Innocence Project fundraiser at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Aging, Disabled and Alzheimer’s Ridden Registered Sex Offenders Face Prosecution and Prison in Virginia for Being Unable or Forgetting to Register

The below situation (see article below) is NOT the first time an aging RSO has been prosecuted for forgetting to register on time, it’s just the first time such an example has made the newspaper. 

Over the last 5.5 years I have advised the Virginia Delegates and Senators of Virginia State Police registration letters being delivered late, with only a few days to act and not at all. I have advised them of the VSP refusing to answer basic questions about registration or traveling for work or vacation. Also when the VSP has refused to take a new photo or forgetting to take it during the visit and then threatening a new felony if the offender doesn’t return in 3 days. 

I have also emailed them on the issues of requiring juveniles, autistic people, mentally disabled people and senior citizens, people with Alzheimer’s and people who are hospitalized or in assisted care ability to reregister on time or at all. That RSO's in these situations are unable to drive to a VSP location to re-register per the Virginia law.  Their disability, their recent physical disintegration and their inability to remember basic activities and due dates would all lead to a new felony and possible prison time. 

2-3 years ago I actually submitted a FOIA to the VSP asking them for the numbers of offenders with Asperger’s, Alzheimer’s, those who are detained to a wheelchair and detained to a bed. I asked for this information because the VSP visits every offender twice a year so they would have direct access and because I wanted to know how many offenders were possibly facing future unnecessary prosecution due to their disability. My request was denied. 

The questions I’ve posed weren’t a “what if”, they are reality and yet not one Virginia Legislator has proposed a bill to work with disabled and aging offenders or requested to meet with me to discuss these issues that I regularly raise. 

I even had a Delegate contact me 2-3 years ago because there was an elderly RSO in a Virginia hospital (in their district) who need to be moved to an assisted living facility and every center near his home refused to accept him because he was an RSO. The only facility that would take him was hundreds of miles from his home so for more than a month he remained in the hospital not receiving the needed rehabilitation. 

Please Email or call  your one Virginia Delegate and Senator today.
  • Ask them if they have read this article
  • Ask them if they remember Mary Devoy’s email’s on this issue
  • Ask them to work on new legislation for 2015 so that an elderly or disabled Virginian who has no intent to commit a crime doesn’t face unnecessary prosecution and time in prison. All is a waste of our tax dollars plus the rapid decline or even death of a senior citizen who can not get the medical care they need and deserve while in prison.

If you are thinking why should I bother contacting them, think about this. You or your loved one who is an RSO at some point could be injured and unable to drive a car, you or they could be bed ridden or you or they could be one of the 5.2 million Americans who develop Alzheimer’s and won’t remember they are an RSO or that you need to register. 

There but by the grace of god go I. 

Thank you. 

Mary Devoy 

Norfolk case highlights aging sex offenders debate         By Louis Hanson      March 30, 2014

Willie Jefferson Combo Jr. arrived at Norfolk Circuit Court on a cold December morning, guilty and worried.

On his mind was a pink slip buried in his mailbox for days - maybe weeks. The small piece of paper was a receipt for a registered letter from the state. His freedom depended on it. 

Combo, 68, is a convicted violent sex offender. The letter represented his remaining debt to Virginia. Every month, he is required to return it to the Virginia State Police with his fingerprints and signature. 

For the past 14 years, his lawyer estimated, he met that responsibility 166 of 168 times. His failure to be perfect has earned him one thing - prison. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Massachusetts Supreme Court Says New Sex Offender Law Not Retroactive

A very interesting ruling from Massachusetts (see below articles). 

In Virginia numerous Sex Offender laws that have been passed in the last 15 years were applied retroactively. 

  • The requirement to register as a Sex Offender
  • Civil Commitment of SVP‘s
  • RSO 's who were reclassified from Non-Violent to Violent, which in turn required re-registration 4 times per year with no chance to ever petition for removal
  • Non-Violent RSO’s went from 10 years before they could petition for removal from the registry to 15 years
  • RSO’s being on school and daycare facility property and loitering nearby
  • Attending school sponsored activities (even your child’s graduation or recital) even when held off of school property (a convention center or church)

I- Mass. Court Says Sex Offender Law Not Retroactive, March 26, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — The state’s highest court has ruled that Massachusetts cannot retroactively post information about thousands of registered sex offenders on the Internet. 

The ruling on Wednesday came in response to a challenge to a law passed last July that allowed the state to add Level 2 sex offenders to its online database. The state’s Sex Offender Registry had previously been allowed to make information available online only about Level 3 sex offenders, those considered most dangerous and most likely to re-offend. 

The Supreme Judicial Court did not strike down the new law, but ruled that it could not apply retroactively to sex offenders who had been classified as Level 2 prior to July 2013. 

The court said its ruling would affect about 6,200 Level 2 sex offenders.

II- SJC ruling keeps 6,000 Level 2 sex offenders off state web registry, March 26, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Turns Away Woman's Challenge to Virginia Sex Offender Registry Law

This is an update to the March 20th Post .

She needs to work her way back through the courts in Virginia including to the Virginia Supreme Court and the District Court appealing all the way before she could be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. I hope she has the time and the funds to get this challenge all the way to the end. 

This issue is so very important for so many RSO's who were arbitrarily re-classified by the Virginia legislature in 2006 and 2008 years after their conviction and classification was assigned. The increase in their classification was NOT based on a mental evaluation, NOT on a predisposition to re-offend, NOT on their compliance during Probation or on their compliance for registering as an RSO. Twice our lawmakers passed one-size-fits-all, erroneous and punitive legislation that denied these Virginians due process making them “Violent Lifers” for misdemeanor (not felony) offenses. 


Supreme Court turns away woman's challenge to Virginia sex offender registry law, March 24, 2014 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of a Virginia woman who claims the state's sex offender registry law is unconstitutional. 

The woman was reclassified as a violent sex offender 15 years after being convicted of unlawful sex with minor in a case that did not involve any violence. The reclassification subjects her to a ban on entering her children's schools without first seeking permission from state courts and the local school board. 

The woman was identified only as Jane Doe in court records. She says the process unfairly risks revealing her children's identity and could take years to resolve. 

Lower courts had rejected her case on procedural grounds, saying she failed to first exhaust state remedies.

Have You Contacted Your Virginia Delegate and Senator? Have They Ignored Your Correspondence? Are You Ready to Give Up or Tell Them Off? Don’t, Rise Above the Fray and Continue Writing, Emailing and Calling Them!

Over the years I’ve heard from many supporters/readers that they NEVER hear back from their State lawmakers when they send a letter, a fax, an email or leave a voice message. Usually in the same note they tell me they aren’t going to continue contacting their Representatives if they can’t be bothered to reply. 

I have been sending emails, leaving brochures and handouts at their G.A. offices and meeting one-on-one with Virginia lawmakers for almost 6 years now and I can tell you that they do read your letters, faxes and email’s and they do listen to your voicemails even though you may never hear back from them. And if you give up contacting them just because you feel they aren’t giving you validation or respect that they have listened to and will consider your views then you are stooping to their level.  

They don’t respond for a variety of reasons including poor time management and a lack of common courtesy.  

But for many of our elected officials they are seriously annoyed that anyone would advocate for this particular platform and until 2009 they NEVER heard from any constituents in their districts telling them about their experiences with the Virginia justice system, how the registry affects their loved ones and that the recidivism rates are the second lowest of any crime but yet millions of dollars are being spent every year to monitor and manage this group and every year more extreme and punitive proposals are presented usually as campaign fodder. When facts are presented to disprove the stance they’ve taken for years a certain segment of our State Legislature becomes sanctimonious, intolerant, hypocritical and vindictive. They purposefully ignore your letters, faxes, email’s and voicemails hoping you will give up and then they can go back to spouting myth, fear, hate and vengeance against registered sex offenders with the legislation they propose and vote for. 

If you give up contacting your one State Delegate and your one State Senator all together then you have encouraged their failure to acknowledge your correspondence.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Websites that Copied Data from 50 States Official Sex Offender Registries Claiming They Were an Alert Service but Then Extorted Money from the Offenders Pocketed Up to $35,000 per Month.

Scrutiny suspends websites' dealings

A shadowy network of Arizona-based Internet companies that used public records to demand money from sex offenders and harass those who complained has imploded amid lawsuits, court hearings and new standards enacted by banks, social media and technology companies. 

The websites, including, SORArchives and, in November stopped seeking payments from people in exchange for removing profiles, blaming the change on "many conflicts, threats, unreasonable requests and false accusations about this website." 

The move followed decisions by MasterCard, Visa, Discover and PayPal to stop processing transactions from what many describe as extortion websites. Google also changed its formula to prevent sites from using search-engine algorithms to increase viewership and monetize on public records such as police mugshots. 

A Call 12 for Action investigation, published in May, found that the Arizona-based sex-offender sites mined data compiled by law-enforcement agencies across the country and used it to collect money. Operators of the sites did not always take down profiles after payments were made and launched online harassment campaigns against those who balked at financial demands or filed complaints. 

The investigation found the websites listed individuals as sex offenders who no longer were required to register or whose names had been removed from sex-offender databases. The sites also included names and personal information of people who had never been arrested or convicted of a sex crime. 

In an interview with Call 12 for Action last month, website operator Brent Oesterblad accused owner Charles "Chuck" Rodrick of taking elaborate steps to conceal his ownership of the websites and misleading state and federal judges about it. Oesterblad's comments were backed by court testimony and banking records. 

"I have personal knowledge that Rodrick has misrepresented the facts of his ownership of the sex-offender websites to his former wife, to the Maricopa County Superior Court and to U.S. District Courts in California and Arizona," Oesterblad said in a affidavit filed last month in federal court. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Alert: U.S. Supreme Court May Take Up Virginia Sex Registry Case


A Virginia RSO who was retroactively reclassified with the punitive legislation passed in 2006 and 2008 by the Virginia General Assembly is challenging the law as it not only violates ex post facto, but denied her due process and was 100% punitive as no individual assessments were done prior to the increase in classification (see article below).  

The Virginia General Assembly retroactively reclassified hundreds possibly thousands of Registered Sex Offenders in 2006 AND 2008. I’ve submitted FOIA’s with the Virginia State Police looking for the actual quantities and I’ve been denied the data. 

When this occurred these offenders became “lifers” with no opportunity to ever petition for removal. Some offenders had already been removed a few years beforehand and were returned to the Virginia Registry because of this legislation. 

Precedence has been set that mass, retroactive reclassifications are unconstitutional in:
·        Kansas: July 2013- Retroactive extension of time required to remain on registry declared punitive
·        Nevada: December 2011- Retroactive/mass re-classifications and residency restrictions. "The application of these laws retroactively is the equivalent of a new punishment tacked on to the original sentence," the judge wrote in the injunction.
·        Oklahoma: June 2013- Restrictions imposed upon registered sex offenders are in fact punitive and not administrative. Also in the ruling the court stated that any retroactive application of laws including re-classifications and prolonging their required time to remain a registered offender are all unconstitutional.
·        Ohio: June 2010- Retroactive/mass re-classifications unconstitutional
·        Indiana: September 2012- The appeals court said the state would benefit by developing procedures to correct registry errors: “Erroneously labeling an offender a sexually violent predator imposes unnecessary monitoring costs on state law enforcement and reduces the efficacy of the registry in providing accurate information to the public,” the ruling said.

(When Virginia erroneously increased Non-Violent to Violent Offenders in 2006 and 2008 that made the offenders “lifers” which includes a lifetime of state monitoring). 

In Ohio’s case the Attorney General’s office spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to return 19,000 to 26,000 offenders (multiple articles have differing numbers) to their original classifications. 

I am thrilled that someone who was affected by the reclassifications in the Commonwealth has found the courage to challenge it and it's being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court!

Being her conviction was in 1993, before the Virginia Sex Offender Registry existed (1997) and registration is for crimes after July 1, 1994 she could and should challenge the requirement to register when her conviction is BEFORE registration was a possibility. That precedence has been set as well in:
·        Hawaii: 2001- Retroactive mandate to register for convictions before the registry existed is an ex post facto violation
·        Maryland: March 2013- Retroactive mandate to register for convictions before the registry existed is an ex post facto violation
·        Ohio: April 2011- Retroactive mandate to register for convictions before the act existed 

I am not an attorney and I don’t know if her challenge will only apply to her or to everyone re-classified in 2008, or even 2006. This is the U.S. Supreme Court, so I think it would be everyone in every state that has been retroactively reclassified with legislation  based on a conviction and not with individual assessments based on risk.

Right now we just wait and see what happens.  

Mary Devoy 

She was a 24-year-old swimming instructor who had a sexual affair with a male student under 16. 

The woman was convicted in Virginia in 1993 of unlawful sex with a teenager and served 30 days in jail. She was listed on the state's sex offender registry, and could have tried to get her name removed at some point, but didn't. 

Fifteen years later, the state passed a new law that reclassified her and thousands of others as violent sex offenders. The woman — identified in court papers only as Jane Doe — has unsuccessfully challenged the law, and now her lawsuit is on the agenda Friday when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court meet in private to consider taking up new cases. 

Her appeal comes as states around the country face growing public pressure to protect people from repeat sexual predators. Those labeled sex offenders are being subjected to a host of new limitations, including where they can live, work or travel. But the new restraints have not come without complaints, and courts in Georgia and Ohio have ruled that sex offender laws in those states went too far. 

Under Virginia's 2008 law the woman, who is now married with three young children, cannot enter public or private school property or attend church services without seeking permission from the state court or the local school board. But she hasn't done that because she said it risks revealing her children's identity and could take years to resolve.

She wants the Virginia law thrown out, claiming the new restrictions interfere with her constitutional rights to raise and educate her children and violate her right to procedural due process.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Virginia: Chesterfield youth could face child porn charges for ‘sexting’

This is the second time in 5 weeks (see newest article below) that Virginia juveniles who created and distributed sexual images under no threat, force or intimidation are facing possible felony charges for child pornography that carry a lifetime public label as Violent Sex Offender. 

As I wrote back on February 6, 2014 the Virginia Legislators had a bill THIS session proposing changes so that minors who “sext” would NOT be arbitrarily swept up by our child porn statutes but the elected officials decided to “kill” in it’s first step instead of working on it. 

Juveniles across the Commonwealth take, send and receive sexual images of friends, classmates and teammates daily, it’s what teens do today, unfortunately. But it should not be a criminal offense with a mandatory minimum prison term and a lifetime as a registered sex offender. Such a fate is not productive for the state or for the juvenile and neither is the looming threat of prosecution while the Commonwealth Attorney mulls over filing charges or not filing charges for this behavior. While they wait to learn their fate one of them might give up waiting in fear like Christian Adamek of Alabama did in October 2013.

Obviously the Virginia Legislators don’t take this issue seriously and until one of their own children takes, sends or receives a “sext” from an acquaintance they will continue to refuse to seriously discuss this issue during session.

I also posted about Virginian teens facing felony child porn charges back on November 27, 2013 This is NOT a new issue and it is NOT going to fade away if we ignore it.


Chesterfield youth could face child porn charges for ‘sexting’, March 14, 2014

Chesterfield Police say two youngsters were caught sending each other naughty pictures of themselves.  

Under current Virginia law, they can be charged with distributing child pornography.  

"If you take a photograph of yourself and you are under 18 and you distribute that," said NBC 12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. "You are distributing child pornography. The law makes no exception for that." 

A bad decision could leave your child labeled a sex offender. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Congress’ Cowardly Double Standard Federal Rule of Evidence 413: Allowing Prior Sexual Accusations and Convictions as Admissable Evidence So that a Conviction Will be Guaranteed

While searching for news articles to add to the In the News page I came across this article. Dartmouth's disturbing hostitlity to the rights of young men accused of sex offenses I had no plans to post the article until I reached the last portion. 

It mentions Federal Rule of Evidence 413 and how the Rape Shield Laws have destroyed our system of justice so that getting a guilty conviction is easier on the “victim”.  Rule 413 was recently referenced during the Virginia 2014 General Assembly session and the discussion of HB403. I also spoke against this proposal before it returned to the 2014 session back on September 3, 2013 . Double standards should NOT be written in our criminal code, it guarantees justice will never be served.

The article also mentions a 2008 study that I was not aware of and wanted to share with everyone. 

I’ve extracted the portion of the article that caught my attention but you can click on the above link to read it in its entirety.


The proposal that prior offenses must be taken into account when determining guilt echoes one of the most dangerous legislative "reforms" enacted by Congress to make getting a rape conviction easier. Federal Rule of Evidence 413 provides that "in a criminal case in which the defendant is accused of an offense of sexual assault, evidence of the defendant's commission of another offense or offenses of sexual assault is admissible, and may be considered for its bearing on any matter to which it is relevant." The jury is to be informed of the defendant's prior acts whether or not the defendant takes the stand.  

For no other crime does the law allow such evidence to be admitted. Rule 413 was widely condemned by the overwhelming majority of lawyers, judges, legal organizations and law professors on the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules, but Congress bowed to pressure from law-and-order types and women's groups and passed the law. R. Klein, An Analysis of Thirty-Five Years of Rape Reform: A Frustrating Search for Fundamental Fairness, 41 Akron L.Rev. 981, 1024 (2008). Professor Richard Klein pointed up a stark double-standard in the way this law treats the accused versus the way Rape Shield Laws treat rape accusers:

The rationale behind rape shield laws is that prior conduct of the victim should have no impact on an assessment of what occurred as to the incident on trial. But as to the defendant, evidence of prior conduct is to be allowed with the inference that "if he did it in the past, he did it this time as well." Such a determination, one not based on fact or evidence, was exactly what rape shield laws were designed to, and do, guard against as to the alleged victim. The accuser is protected, the accused is not.

Sentencing and Policy Blog Post: "Judges as Framers of Plea Bargaining"

I'm sharing the below post about a new paper on the topic of Federal plea bargaining and a proposal for future deals but personally I believe plea bargaining should disappear in America all together.

If the Prosecution does not have a case that would hold up in a trial then charges should be dropped. After all it is the responsibility of the Government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but that not what happens in or country today. Prosecutors stack charges, they have mandatory minimums  on their side and anyone who can’t afford an OK defense attorney ($50,000-$75,000) will be given a court appointed attorney who will just push the defendant into taking the plea deal so they can get their paltry payment from the State and move on to the next defendant who has no money. 

That’s why more than 94% of criminal charges in Virginia are settled with a plea deal, not because of guilt but because the Prosecutors hold all the cards, our statutes have been re-written over the last 25 years to lower the bar of guilt while raising the penalty and a good attorney is more than $100,000. Who has $100,000? 

I’ve previously posted articles about plea bargaining in the In the News page . Including some of these:
·        Southern Virginia task force polices digital shadows, February 16, 2014
·        Report: Prosecutors force federal drug defendants to plead guilty, December 15, 2013
It says those who reject plea deals get stiffer terms
·        Harsh Sentences Are Killing the Jury Trial, December 6, 2013
As they coerce defendants into making plea bargains, prosecutors are also shutting everyday Americans out of the justice system.
·        Prosecutors Draw Fire for Sentences Called Harsh, December 5, 2013
·        US: Forced Guilty Pleas in Drug Cases, December 5, 2013
Threat of Draconian Sentences Means Few Willing to Risk Trial
·        OpEd: Colorado’s draconian sex-offender laws need reform, November 10, 2013
·        Thumb on the scale: How mandatory minimum sentences distort plea bargaining, January 26, 2013
·        Widespread Use of Plea Bargains Plays Major Role in Mass Incarceration, November 2012
·        The Devil’s Bargain: How Plea Agreements, Never Contemplated by the Framers, Undermine Justice July 2011
·        The Case Against Plea Bargaining, 2003
Government should not retaliate against individuals who exercise their right to trial by jury.

I know from personal experience that plea deals are offered in Virginia before the Prosecution interviews the defendant (5 months and 2 weeks since the false accusation was made), you are only given 5 minutes to make a decision about the plea and if you don’t take the offer they’ve stated your photo, name, address and charges will be released to the 6 O’clock news.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission Meeting Schedule for 2014

Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission (VCSC) holds 4 public meetings each year. 

For 2014 the tentative dates (they’ve been known to change them) are: 
  • Monday April 14, 2014
  • Monday June 9, 2014
  • Monday September 8, 2014
  • Wednesday November 5, 2014
The meetings begin at 10am and usually end by 12-noon. 

Members of the VCSC are 

The VCSC staff  is tasked with legislative fiscal impact submissions for all proposed bills at the yearly General Assembly session. 6 out of 9 years "Sex Offender" Bills have been #1 for filed legislation that would result in money being needed if it became law in the Commonwealth.
    • In 2013 there were 52 Sex Offender (#1) and 39 Fraud/Larceny (#2) analyses.
    • In 2012 there were 71 Sex Offender (#1) and 29 Fraud/Larceny (#2) analyses.
    • In 2011 there were 47 Drug (#1), 29 Sex Offender (#2) and 19 Protective Order (#3) analyses.
    • In 2010 there were 27 Murder (#1), 16 Assault (#2), 16 Sex Offender (#3) and 13 Gangs (#4) analyses.
    • In 2009 there were 15 Sex Offender (#1) and 13 Weapons (#2) analyses.
    • In 2008 there were 53 Sex Offender (#1) and 29 Prisoner/Offender (#2) analyses.
    • In 2007 there were 68 Sex Offender (#1) and 30 Illegal Aliens (#2) analyses.
    • In 2006 there were 86 Sex Offender (#1) and 30 Drug (#2) analyses.
    • In 2005 there were 48 Drug (#1), 25 Computer Crimes (#2) this category would include Computer Solicitation of a Minor and Child Pornography Production, Possession and Distribution. In reality many of these analyses should be counted under Sex Offender, 23 for both Sex Offender (#3) and Firearms and 19 Gangs (#4) analyses.
Impact Analyses from Virginia General Assembly:
                                                               2013      2012         2011        2010      2009       2008       2007       2006      2005
Expansion or Clarification of Crime* 51.6%     63.2%        87.2%       66.7%      60.7%      45.4%       44.9%       39.0%      31.3%
New Crime*                                          42.9%     40.8%       26.5%        16.4%      32.5%      36.5%       33.1%        41.7%       37.9%
Mandatory Minimum*                          10.2%      17.7%        12.8%         3.4%         8.5%        2.3%        11.8%       10.4%         4.9%
Misdemeanor to a Felony*                    29.2%      17.3%        10.9%        11.1%         6.0%      15.8%       10.6%       16.1%        16.5%
Increase Felony Punishment*              7.1%        7.2%           2.8%         0%            0%          8.2%        12.2%        11.4%         7.4%