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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Dear Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee Members Why Did HB1485 Get Added to Today’s Agenda Just 51 Minutes Ago?


The below was emailed to all Virginia House Courts of Justice Committee members at 9:52AM on February 1, 2017. 

Dear House Courts of Justice Committee Members, 

I made sure to check today’s House Criminal Sub-Committee agenda yesterday and HB1485-Dickie Bell/ Scott Lingamfelter/ Israel O’Quinn was NOT listed. If it had been I’d be on my way down to the GA Bldg right now. 

And yet 51 minutes ago I received the below email notification that HB1485 is all of a sudden on today’s agenda, plus 3 other Bills. These same-day additions keep happening with the VA House Courts of Justice calendars but NOT with the VA Senate, why? 

So I could drop everything I’m doing today and make a bee-line to the GA Bldg to oppose it even though we all know its Companion version (SB1045) died yesterday in Senate Finance but I’ve decided against it. It’s my 25th wedding anniversary and while I should drive down there, wait around all afternoon and then list off all the reasons to oppose HB1485 to the Criminal Sub-Committee I know I can oppose it (if even necessary) when it gets to the Senate.  

To see HB1485 pop-up on today’s agenda tells me that the Patron Dickie Bell is willing to waste the House Committees time so that he can claim this Bill as being “Tough on Sexual Predators” or perhaps that he is closing (a non-existent) “Loophole” for Sex Offenders, possibly for this Novembers election. 

As currently written and requested by VSP Lt. Keenon Hook HB1485 will be retroactively applied to people who moved to Virginia 5, 10 and 15 years ago and are currently registered on the VSP Registry. 

On January 16th VSP Lt. Keenon Hook made this extremely misleading statement to the VA Senate Committee about this proposal: 

“This Bill addresses what VA already sees as public policy Sex Offenders not having unrestricted access to children.  

This Bill also corrects what is NOW an incentive for Offenders who have their convictions in other States move to Virginia. 27 other States have restrictions and these Child Sex Offenders are able to relocate to VA to avoid those restrictions… creates an incentive for them to do so. So this Bill will correct that”.
 

As if Virginia is a “Haven” or a “Destination” for out-of-State Sex Offenders to flock to. Well, it’s not. 

The annual sexual conviction rate in Virginia and the growth of the VSP Registry are in-line with one another; there is no flood of out-of-state Sex Offenders coming to Virginia. And ANY Registered Sex Offender that lives near a daycare or a school knows if a child is abducted, they will be the very first stop for the police, no one is getting away with anything. 

VSP Lt. Hook is fine knowing that without a conviction date of July 1, 2017 in this Bill some Virginians current residences will retroactively become felonies on July 1st and they could become homeless. I find it very disconcerting that the State Police knowingly proposed a Bill to make citizens homeless and refused to amend it until I stood up in Senate Courts of Justice on January 16th and publicly pointed it out, then and ONLY then was he willing to add a grandfather-clause. If HB1485 moves out of House Criminal-Sub today, it needs the same grandfather clause added. 

The second problem with HB1485 is the loitering portion. 

The Virginians, who will be swept up by this change, previously verified where they could and could not legally “loiter” when they moved to the State of Virginia years ago and registered with the State Police.  But now with HB1485 the rules-of-the-game are changing and it’s a felony! 

Without prior notice we're setting these currently compliant people up for failure with an arbitrary felony for simply picking up their child from a sporting event or dropping them at the corner of their school because they aren’t permitted on the property.
 


So I proposed two options to Lt. Hook to avoid this from occuring: 

Option 1:
  • The State Police will notify all affected Registered Sex Offenders of the change in law that prohibits them from loitering w/ in 100ft via certified mail (as-is done with VSP re-registration letters) 30 days PRIOR to the law taking effect on July 1, 2017.
Option 2:
  • A start date of January 1, 2018 is added w/ the knowledge that between July 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018 those Offenders who are affected will register at least once if not twice within that 6 month period and in that time-frame the VSP will be sure to get the Offenders signature that they have been notified of the new law that they will be obligated to abide by. 
Lt Hook refused them both.  

Lt. Hook claimed to the Senate that there is no way to know who this new law would apply to, not today and not after it becomes law on July 1st so making some sort of notification would be impossible. I find that excuse extremely difficult to accept. 

The Registered Sex Offenders on the VSP Registry are listed by conviction, the statutes and what state. When anyone with a sexual conviction moves to Virginia the VSP looks at their out-of-state /military conviction to compare closest VA statute, then the VSP decides if they must register or not and if so if they’d be classified as Non-Violent or as Violent per the VSP's decision. At that point the VSP knows what legal restrictions apply to that RSO and which ones don’t. 

So how can the VSP claim that they won’t know who this new law will apply to? And if the VSP won’t know then WHY is this law even being proposed? 

If Virginia’s Trespassing Law requires posted signage OR prior notification for it to be a crime, then so should our RSO Loitering Law. If HB1485 makes it out of Criminal-Sub Committee today, please add one of these two options so that prior notification is given to those people it will be directed towards. 

If the VSP truly does not know how many people this will affect now or after it becomes law, then why the heck are they even pushing for this change? 

Sincerely, 

Mary Davye Devoy
 

------ Forwarded Message ------
From: "Courts of Justice - Criminal Law Subcommittee" <Do-Not-Reply@house.virginia.gov>
To: "Courts of Justice - Criminal Law Subcommittee" <Do-Not-Reply@house.virginia.gov>
Sent: 2/1/2017 9:08:09 AM
Subject: Meeting Changed - Courts of Justice - Criminal Law Subcommittee            

Virginia House of Delegates - Courts of Justice - Criminal Law Subcommittee

Chair:
Bell, Robert B.
Meeting Date:
02/01/2017
Meeting Time:
Immediately upon adjournment of full committee
Location:
House Room C
Contact:
 
Jennica Kwak, jkwak@house.virginia.gov, 804-698-1748 David Cotter, dcotter@dls.virginia.gov, 804-786-3591, ext. 204
Britt Olwine, bolwine@dls.virginia.gov, 804-786-3591, ext. 208
Emma Buck, ebuck@dls.virginia.gov, 804-786-3591, ext. 240
Steve Mutnick, Steve@wmmlegal.com

On the agenda for this meeting are 24 Bill(s)/Resolution(s) in 2 block(s)
Bills Added:
HB1485, HB1854, HB2039, HB2435
 
 

Click to view Full Agenda and see more information on this meeting.

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