Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014 VSCC Meeting: Proposals for Consensual Teen Sexting in Virginia and the Many Concerns the Proposals Have Raised

The Virginia State Crime Commission held its second meeting for 2014 today, agenda . 

  1. Status of Special Conservators of the Peace
  2. Private Police Departments
  3. Digital Impersonation and Harassment (HB 344 and HB 707)
  4. Update on Sexting
  5. Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force Case Examples
  6. Human Trafficking and Juvenile Prostitution (SB 373 and HB 486)
  7. Update on Law Enforcement Lineups
The first 15 slides of the Sexting Presentation is a look back on what Virginia has and hasn’t done in past years to address Teen Sexting. 

On slide #16 we learn that a group I had never heard of The Virginia Criminal Justice Conference- VCJC (which was created in 2006 to be the criminal justice system equivalent of the Boyd-Graves Conference) has been discussing Teen Sexting for 3 years now.  

The VCJC is made up of a roughly equal balance of prosecutors and defense attorneys, and also includes jurists from each level of Virginia’s courts, legal scholars, and representatives from the General Assembly. Its goal is to improve criminal justice in Virginia, and make proposals for improvement, but only if substantial consensus is reached amongst the members. Its annual conference is hosted by The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association- VTLA; there is no website for the VCJC to know who the members are, what they are meeting about or when they've met. On the VTLA website there is a VCJC page that reads “coming soon”. 

The most recent VCJC Sexting Subcommittee decided that Sexting legislation in Virginia:
  • Should not completely decriminalize any sexting behavior, as even taking a lewd photo of oneself, as a minor, creates an
  • unquestionable risk of harm;
  • Should recognize that qualitatively, some sexting behaviors are less culpable than the conduct that is the primary focus of the child pornography statutes, and are therefore deserving of a lessened penalty;
  • Should fit within the existing child pornography statutes;
  • Should be very limited in scope; and,
  • Should contain a “first offender” provision that would apply only to those limited sexting behaviors.