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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sexting Laws in 50 States


As readers may remember back on June 3, 2016 I posted an action item to amend Virginia’s Child Pornography statutes so teens who consensually ‘Sext” do NOT get charged with Producing, Possessing, Solicitation or Distributing Child Pornography by overzealous Commonwealth's Attorneys. 

There is some interest amongst Virginia Legislators to work on such a proposal in 2017 or 2018 but their hesitation at the moment is stronger than their interest. 

As with most proposals I’ve made over the years one of the first questions I’m asked by Legislators is...What are they doing in the other states? 

Well some States have made ‘Sexting’ a misdemeanor instead of a felony and that’s NOT a better solution. If there is no force, threat, intimidation, extortion or mass emailing/posting online of the images then I don’t believe any criminal charges should be filed. That’s why I believe an age-gap allowance like in Virginia’s Carnal Knowledge statute will make sure only age-appropriate relationships are excluded from prosecution for consensual Sexting. But I also don’t think 18, 19 and 20 year old in age-appropriate relationships should face criminal charges either and we need to include them in any Virginia Bill/proposal and that seems to be a sticking point for many Virginia Legislators. They usually don't want to see a 16 year old convicted who is in a relationship with a 14 or 13 year old ...............but they completely hesitate to protect any 18 or 19 year old who is in a relationship with a 16 or 17 year old, and they shouldn’t! 

I know when I was 16 and 17 years old I was dating 18, 19, and 20 year olds there isn’t anything wrong with that and those who attempt to spin similar relationships into a perverse acts need to look within and determine why do they view a 16 and a 19 year old or a 17 and a 20 year old dating, as predatory.

Age-gap proposals have been made by experts in the juvenile field. Some suggest a 3-year and some suggest a 4-year age gap being added to State Child Pornography statutes and none of them suggest we stop at the age of 17 (juveniles) to criminalize the 18, 19 or 20 year olds. 

Here are a few recent books on the topic:
·         Sexting and Young People by Thomas Crofts , M. Lee , A. McGovern and S. Milivojevic
·         Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age: Considerations for Clinicians, Legal Professionals and Educators by Fabian Saleh, Albert Grudzinskas and Abigail Judge
·         Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent (Feminist Media Studies) by Amy Adele Hasinoff
·         Sexting and Cyberbullying: Defining the Line for Digitally Empowered Kids by Shaneen Shariff
·         Refining Child Pornography Law: Crime, Language, and Social Consequences (Law, Meaning, and Violence) by Carissa Byrne Hessick 

So…..what do the other 49 States do when it comes to consensual teen Sexting?  

A Virginia Legislator did ask me this recently so as I’ve done with many other issues..... I went looking for the requested data….and I quickly found, no one had a complete or current list/chart for all 50 States. So as I have done many times before I decided to compile the data that's out there into one chart. The most important information I was looking for ‘age-gaps’ turned out to be non-existent. I don’t know if this means States are NOT using age-gaps OR if the data I was able to locate just doesn’t mention them.
 
Below is a 50 State Teen Sexting Chart, divided into 4 parts to fit on this blog. I am not claiming it’s perfect and I know it’s not complete. If anyone sees an error or has any updates for their State, please email me MaryDavyeDevoy@comcast.net 
 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Michigan Sex Offender Restrictions ARE Punitive and Retroactive Laws Passed by Legislature DO Violate Ex Post Facto

 
If I hadn’t joined Twitter back in April I wouldn’t have seen Professor Corey Rayburn Yung’s tweets about this BIG decision today! 

A heads up to the Virginia Legislature! 

Today the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with two points I’ve been making for 8 years here in Virginia. Our Register Sex Offender restrictions (loitering, residency, employment, date changes, etc) are 100% punitive AND when the Legislature passes new RSO laws every year if the Legislature doesn't
include a start date so then the VSP applies them retroactively to existing RSO's that's a Constitutional violation!

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruled that:
  1. Michigan’s Sex Offender Restrictions ARE Punitive, not simply administrative
  2. Michigan’s Retroactive Laws against Registered Sex Offenders Passed by Legislature over the Years DO Violate Ex Post Facto

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shame on Richmond Times Dispatch Reporter Ali Rockett! She Used VSP Registry Information that is Immaterial to the Issue to Hype His Story While Also Shaming a Virginia Business Who Hired an RSO


Update Post 08/18/16: 


Around 12 noon
The Daily Progress removed everything Sex Offender related from the online article including the employer but the print version that went out was the full RTD article. Still it's something.

Thank you Daily Progress!

Mary 

5:35AM
The Daily Progress reprinted the RTD article Police: Sex offender led trooper on high-speed chase in Louisa http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/crime/police-sex-offender-led-trooper-on-high-speed-chase-in/article_76d13e0b-92ec-5201-9b0f-d902388a46d0.html so they received the same email from me this morning.
 
Mary

Original Post 08/17/16:

Ms. Ali Rockett, 

I read your article online State police ID motorcyclist who led trooper on high-speed chase in Louisa as sex offender from Surry http://www.richmond.com/news/local/central-virginia/louisa/article_1bbedeb5-18f8-5420-baba-accaf1ebecc0.html early this morning and I’ve stewed about it for 6+ hours. It was Tweeted late last night and Facebooked two hours ago by RTD. 

I know nothing about Justin Eugene Abney. I am not defending him, his past convictions or his recent actions on his motorcycle in Louisa Co. It’s good that he’s been identified so he can be held accountable for his dangerous/reckless driving.

But two parts of your article are really bothering me. 

1. What does his posting on the VSP Registry have to do with being sought for a motorcycle incident? If you were able to determine he had been convicted of an assault, robbery, drug, DUI or even murder back in 2005, would you have felt the need to include that in your recent RTD article? I am actually thinking you wouldn’t have. But because the VSP Registry is right there w/ all the details, you thought what the heck ‘Sex Offender’ in my title will catch more reader’s attention.  

His conviction in 2005 has nothing to do with the on-going issue in Louisa and including it in your piece was pure sensationalism. 

2. Why did you feel the need to post his employers information?  

Did you know that only 6 States in the entire U.S. post the employer/company name and the full address of their RSO’s online and that Virginia is one of those 6?

 

Friday, August 12, 2016

VA-DMV Fails to Prepare for New Law (2016's SB666/HB1190) So I Might be Required to Pay Late-Fee, My Husband Could Face a Felony & 13 Other Virginians Will be Humiliated


Because the Virginia DMV failed to prepare for the new law that passed through the Virginia Legislature unanimously passed I might be looking at a late-fee, my husband could be facing a felony and 13 other Virginians will be publicly humiliated or unnecessarily enraged in the near future. 

  • On March 1, 2016 Virginia Governor McAuliffe signed SB666-Senator Dick Black into law.
  • On March 11, 2016 Virginia Governor McAuliffe signed HB 1190-Delegates Tag Greason/Marcus Simon into law.
Ø       This new law prohibits the Virginia DMV from issuing to Registered Sex Offenders special license plates relating to children or children's programs or with revenues paid to funds for the benefit of children or renewing the registration for a vehicle that has been issued such license plates.

  • The Virginia DMV knew 4 months before they became law on July 1, 2016 of the 19,869 Children’s Charity Specialty License Plates in circulation 14 were owned or co-owned to someone listed on the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry.
  • On Thursday July 14, 2016 I received my VA-DMV registration renewal for my 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee which is due in August. My husband is a co-owner and he is a Non-Violent RSO. The DMV renewal I received was standard so I went ahead and paid the fee mailing it off on July 20th. I expected one of two things to occur.
    1. I’d get a letter in the mail any day stating that my renewal was sent in error because my husband is an RSO and it would explain what  SB666 and HB 1190 meant in regards to my current Kid’s First Specialty Plate and that I’d be receiving a standard-plate in the mail before the end of August unless I wanted to select a new specialty-plate at a DMV location.
    2. I’d receive a standard Virginia license plate and be told it replaces my Kid’s First Specialty Plate on September 1st because my Kid’s First Specialty Plate had been revoked since  SB666 and HB 1190 had become law on July 1st  AND there’d be a refund for the difference in cost for a standard-plate and a specialty-plate.
  • Three weeks passed since I mailed off my VA-DMV renewal and payment, no letters, no replacement plate and no phone calls.
  • On Friday August 12th I received a letter (it’s above) dated August 5th and post-marked August 9th that included my payment and my completed re-registration form. The letter said I must select a new License Plate BUT it did not give ANY explanation why. There is no notation of the new Virginia law banning Registered Sex Offenders from owning a License Plate that benefits a Children’s Charity.  But the letter does tell me that if I don’t select a new plate before the end of August I will be responsible for a $10 late fee. 

The VA-DMV had 4 months to figure out who the 14 license plates belonged to and when their next re-registrations were due before the law took effect, but they didn’t. 
 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Action Item: Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses and Juveniles from the Public Virginia Sex Offender Registry AND Scrap Our 2-Level Conviction-Based Classification System for a 3 or 4 Level Risk-Based System


#4 and #14 of my 28 Legislative Fixes (or Goals) have now been rolled together under Goal #4 part one and part two. 

Officially Goal #8 (Legislative Fixes) could/should also be rolled into #4 too, but at this time I’m leaving it separate.
 

Virginia Legislative Goal #4

Part 1) Virginia Needs a 3 or 4 Tier/Level Risk-Based Classification System for our Registered Sex Offenders. 

Virginia currently has a meaningless 2-Tiered Conviction-Based Classification System, Non-Violent or Violent. 

A Risk-Based classification system would identify those who pose a real threat to society instead of classifying them on a conviction which was mostly likely downgraded with a plea agreement (more than 94% of criminal convictions in Virginia are settled with a plea deal). So today a real-threat could be currently classified as Non-Violent because they pled to a misdemeanor instead of the original felony they were facing but a mental review of the same offender could conclude they are in fact a high-risk to reoffend. 

A Risk-Based classification system would take some time and money initially but in the long run it would save the Commonwealth millions of dollars because everyone would not be treated the same, more resources would be directed toward the higher risks whereas today they do not receive heightened monitoring. Other States have made the switch, so it can be done. 

3 Tiers/Levels would assist the public in deciphering between the Offenders, today they really can’t. 

Proposed System:
·         Tier/Level 1 would be the lowest risk to reoffend and could automatically be removed after 10 years of compliance
·         Tier/Level 2 would be a moderate risk to reoffend and could petition for removal after 15 or 20 years of compliance
·         Tier/Level 3 would be the highest risk to reoffend and would be registered for life 

A few states have 4-8 Tiers/Levels; this could be a possibility for Virginia too AND some States classify those who are and were civilly committed as Sexually Violent Predators (SVP’s) on their Registry. Today Virginia does not note who was previously civilly committed as an SVP, I think we should. 

Virginia civilly commits our SVP’s based on risk, but yet we classify our RSO’s on their conviction we should be consistent and base everything on risk. 

It’s Time to implement a 3-Level/Tier (or more) Risk-Based Classification in Virginia! 

Part 2) Remove the Misdemeanor Offenses AND Juveniles from the Public Sex Offender Registry. 

Many states do not require misdemeanors to even register and other states have a private registry for misdemeanors that is only accessible by law enforcement. A misdemeanor is not supposed to follow someone for life, but with a public registry it does. Inclusion of all offenses overburdens the system and dilutes the registry to a point where society cannot differentiate between plausible threat and a non threat. 

The Federal Adam Walsh Act/SORNA does NOT require public registration for misdemeanor offenses nor do they require public registration for   juveniles.
 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Virginia Forces 16 Year Old to Register as Violent Sex Offender (for Life) on Public VSP Registry for Crimes that Don’t Mandate Juvenile Registration


I rarely post followers/supporters email’s or stories for many reasons that I won’t go into at this time. 

But about 2 weeks ago I received an email that bothered me so much I immediately shared the details with the Virginia Legislators and Administration and then made two requests to change Virginia law. 

As I finish my 50 State Juveniles Sex Offender chart  hoping to post it later this week with an action item I’ve decided to share the email I received two weeks ago. 

The below has been edited to protect the sender’s identity: 

Ms Devoy 

I would like to thank you for your webpage.  It has been very informative.  Our son, who is 16, was placed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry in ________ and is still currently in DJJ, hoping to be home by _________.  My wife and I are completely devastated and worried about his future.   

My wife found your post with the link leading to the Regulations.gov on June 9th and we were able to submit comments before the deadline.  Thank you for this.   

I cannot believe he will pay by registering for the rest of his life for something that happened a week after his 16th birthday.  We are here for him and always will be because the challenges he is facing (college, career, social) in young adulthood and beyond are scary and seem hopeless.  I have heard the defeated and hopeless words come from him.  We keep encouraging trying to find bright spots but it is hard.  He really won’t feel the impact until he is released.  He is doing what he is supposed to do and taking advantage of what is offered there.  Even the staff and parole officers know he is a "fish out of water".   

These young people do not deserve to pay for the rest of there lives.  We let drug dealers and persons that have caused fatal accidents while under the influence out of jail with no registry.  Why are teenagers singled out for their lives?  If they have paid their debt, than they should be allowed to continue with growing up and become productive members of society. 

I would like to offer any help that I can.  This is such a new and complicated subject matter for us, we really don't know what to do.

Thank you again for the work that you are doing. 

In Virginia registration as a Sex Offender for a juvenile is supposed to be decided by the judge for ONLY THREE crimes Rape, Sodomy and Object Sexual Penetration. Any Juvenile mandated to register in Virginia is classified as Violent (as opposed to Non-Violent) which makes them a ‘Lifer’ with no opportunity to ever be removed. 

Some Virginia Delegates and Senators have been to know to claim while attempting to increase juvenile registration mandates at the annual General Assembly session that......... only the “worst-of-the-worst juveniles convicted of one of the “Big 3” crimes are given the label Sex Offender in the Commonwealth. 

I decided to look the 16 year old up expecting to find one of the “Big 3” crimes but instead he was convicted of:
Ø       18.2-67.3           Aggravated Sexual Battery
Ø       18.2-386.1        Unlawful creation of image of another
Ø       18.2-374.1         Production, publication, sale, financing, etc., of child pornography; presumption as to age
Ø       18.2-374.1:1     Possession, reproduction, distribution, solicitation, and facilitation of child pornography; penalty 

Aggravated Sexual Battery is NOT supposed to be a registerable offense for juveniles in Virginia. 

A child produced and possessed child pornography; this is NOT how the Virginia Child Pornography statutes were intended to be used.  
 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Man with Autism Asking Virginia's High Court to Hear his Appeal in Sex Assault Case, By Frank Green

I’ve been emailing the Virginia Legislators about Autistic Virginian’s being wrongly accused, incorrectly convicted and mandated to register for life for 5+ years. 

Here are some past posts about Autistic RSO’s since I started this blog in 2013 for anyone interested in the topic.
Mary Devoy


Man with autism asking Va.'s high court to hear his appeal in sex assault case, August 7, 2016
By Frank Green

Did a Chesterfield County judge fail to properly take into account a man’s Asperger syndrome when the defendant stood trial for sexual assault? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2 Virginia Delegates Running for Open Virginia Senate Seats This November Vacated Their House Seats on August 2nd to Allow for Special Elections in November 2016 for Their Old House Seats Instead of in January 2017




Back on July 13th I posted about 2 Virginia Senate seats “Special Elections” this November for two current members of the Virginia House that if they win will mean a Special Election in January 2017 to fill the two vacant Virginia House seats. Also on July 13th  I posted about all the Virginia candidates running for US Congress which includes 3 current State Legislators who if they are elected to Congress in November we’d have 3 other vacancies  for a Special Election in January 2017. 

Yesterday on August 2 two Virginia Delegates (both running for Virginia Senate) decided to step-down from the Virginia House positions immediately to allow for replacements to run for election in November instead of delaying it until January 2017. If I wasn’t following the Governor on Twitter https://twitter.com/GovernorVA/status/760569393491435525/photo/1 , I would never have heard about it as this news did not go out in a Governors email announcement. 

So………… two more State Special Elections will be held on November 8, 2016, for a total of 4. 

Virginia Delegate Monty Mason’s 93rd District VA House seat includes:
Ø       James City County (part)
Ø       York County (part)
Ø       City of Newport News (part)
Ø       City of Williamsburg 

Virginia Delegate Lionel Spruill Sr ‘s 77th District VA House seat includes:
Ø       City of Chesapeake (part)
Ø       City of Suffolk (part) 

The candidates for these 2 District’s are yet to be determined but when they are known I will post about them so those of you who live in these Districts can learn about the candidates and go vote on November 8th! 

Mary Devoy

August 2016 Hysteria…. it isn’t related to the Presidential Campaign it’s PokémonGo and Registered Sex Offenders


For anyone who follows me on Twitter or regularly checks the In the News page of this blog you already know what the last 6 days in New York State has been all about. How quickly do you think Virginia will hop on this bandwagon?