Sunday, June 21, 2015

July 1st in Virginia: New Laws Take Effect!


New Virginia laws take effect today, July 1, 2015
Original Post:  

As most followers of this blog know back in January and February 2015 the Virginia Legislature met in Richmond for the annual General Assembly (Regular Session) and then met for one day in April for the “Veto Session”. 
  • To review the history of the bills that I tracked, supported and opposed during the 2015 session, go here
  • To learn how a bill becomes law in Virginia, go here
All bills that passed the Virginia Legislature and were signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe become law on Wednesday July 1, 2015! 

  • To view the full list of all new Virginia laws for 2015, go here or here.
Remember ignorance of a law is NOT an accepted defense in any court! 

As always, to know what Virginia laws apply to Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s), you can go here . Unlike with ANY other newly created law, RSO laws ARE applied retroactively. Per § 9.1-901. Section C unless a specific start date is provided, “all new provisions of the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act shall be applied retroactively”. 

For 2015, there are NO NEW legal compliance requirements and there are NO NEW legal restrictions for Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia. 

The only 2015 change for current and future RSO’s is a more complicated and humiliating process for RSO parents to petition their children’s school district to obtain permission to be on school property or to attend school-sponsored activities. Delegate Jeffrey Campbell’s HB1366  mandates an RSO who is petitioning for permission to take their own children to and from school to place and pay for a newspaper advertisement for 2 weeks so that complete strangers can submit testimony against the parents petition to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and to the judge hearing the case but the RSO parent has to ability to address or defend and submissions against their petition. 

There is a second change in law for 2015 to note here BUT it does NOT apply to those who are currently RSO’s in Virginia. It applies to thousands of people who at this moment have no idea their lives are about to change, they were convicted of a sex crime BEFORE the VSP Sex Offender Registry was created in July 1995, they have pre-July 1995 convictions going ALL the way back to 1980 aka “Robby’s Rule 2015”. The Virginia State Police (VSP) must create an online “Supplemental” Sex Offender Registry by January 1, 2016 of all the court records for sex crimes from July 1980 to July 1995 that if committed today would require registration as a Sex Offender. The “VSP Supplemental Registry” is an unverified “data dump” of 35 year old court records onto the VSP website that will never be confirmed or updated. It will list the name of the person convicted, the jurisdiction of the conviction, their age at conviction and the Virginia criminal statute of the original conviction which might have been a misdemeanor 3 decades ago but today, is a felony. These people paid their court ordered debt to society decades ago and the majority of them they have not been convicted of a new crime, but as of 2015 the State is going to publicly list them as a “Supplemental Sex Offender”, with no advanced notice and no due process. They will suffer punitive repercussions, for this supposed “administrative” act. These people could have moved out of Virginia years ago or they could be dead, but their name and conviction is going to be listed on the VSP website as a Sex Offender in the next few months. There will be no physical description, no old photograph and no information about where they are today which could very easily lead those who view the list to mistake someone with a similar name as a “Sex Offender”. Per Robby’s Rule 2015 those who will be placed onto the VSP Supplemental Sex Offender Registry can petition for removal AFTER 15 years (even though their conviction is already 21 to 30 years old). WHY? Because having your criminal conviction listed on a VSP Supplemental Sex Offender Registry is a not simply centralizing court records… is labeling citizens a public Sex Offender for a decades old conviction! 

Again, to review the history of ALL the bills that I tracked, supported and opposed during the 2015 session, go here . 
Mary Devoy