Thursday, December 24, 2015

Action Item: Virginia Bill SB86 Needs a Start Date Added Otherwise Current Non-Violent RSO’s Will be Retroactively Re-Classified to Violent and Become “Lifers” with No Due Process

SB86 has just posted today, it’s been submitted by Virginia Senator Tom Garrett (who has recently announced he will run in 2016 for the open Congressional seat of retiring Representative Robert Hurt) for the upcoming 2016 Virginia General Assembly session. 

SB86 RAISES the penalty for sexual abuse (a defined term) of a child 13 or 14 years old from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony.  This is Senator Garrett’s third attempt to get this change passed into law…. in 2015 it was SB1138 and in 2014 it was SB442  both died in the Appropriations Committee due to it’s high cost.  But supposedly for the upcoming 2016 session there is plenty of money available so I’m thinking this time the proposal has a very good chance at passing through the Legislature. 

Now personally I do not oppose the increase in penalty if it is an adult being charged for this crime. When I originally stood up in 2014 with a list of concerns against the same proposal I asked that an age gap allowance for a perpetrator who is close in age to the victim and did NOT use force, threat or intimidation be added to the text. I was told by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee that an “age gap was not needed” because § 18.2-67.4:2 would only be used for adult (18 years and older) perpetrators so I did not bother making this request in 2015. 

BUT there is a VERY serious problem with SB86 that needs immediate attention. 

2016’s SB86 does NOT include an “effective date” of July 1, 2016; this means as currently written this proposal to increase the penalty for sexual abuse of a 13 or 14 year old from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony would be applied retroactive by the Virginia State Police. 

Anyone convicted of this crime since it’s inception in 2007 until June 30 2016 who was originally classified as Non-Violent Sex Offender will be elevated to a Violent Sex Offender, without ANY due process.