Sunday, June 25, 2017

In Virginia July 1st is When New Laws Go into Effect……So What Laws Have Changed for Virginia’s Current and Future Registered Sex Offenders in 2017?

Soon Virginia news outlets will start to write about the new laws that take effect in Virginia this coming Saturday, July 1st.  

The Virginia Division of Legislative Services does publish a summary of new laws following the end of session for the VA Legislators to have on hand called In Due Course. I thought about publishing this post back on 06/17/17 but the VDLS summary was not yet online, now it is. 

Media outlets usually pick the most controversial new laws or the widest-net ones to write about, there is no way they can cover every-single new law. 

And since ignorance of the law is not an acceptable defense and mens rea (criminal intent) isn’t a required factor in the commission of a crime, especially a sex crime or in a failure to register for RSO’s, I am going to repost my May 11th list of new laws for Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia in case anyone missed it the first time around. Also you can visit the 2017 General Assembly page to follow the history of the Bills I fought this year. 

Mary Devoy 
May 11, 2017 Re-Post:

The 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session began back on Wednesday January 11th , it  adjourned on Saturday February 25th and the reconvene session (AKA Veto Session) was held on Wednesday April 5, 2017. 

This morning I finally finalized the 2017 General Assembly Legislation page so that all the details on what Bills failed and what Bills passed are in one location. That page will remain up until November and then it will be replaced with a new 2018 GA Legislation page in anticipation of the next VA GA session. 

So now that’s all over…………. what new laws begin on July 1, 2017 that will affect Virginias current (not just future) Registered Sex Offenders (RSO)? Is there anything significant that you need to know about or to avoid or are now required to do?  Yes there are 2 changes, only 1 is a new crime.

Changes that will occur on July 1st:

New Law #1:
HB1485 adds any person convicted of an offense under the laws of any foreign country or any political subdivision thereof, or the United States or any political subdivision thereof to:
·         §§ 18.2-370.2 (Loitering)
Ø      A primary, secondary or high school, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2000
Ø      A child day center if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006
Ø      A locality operated playground, athletic field or facility, or gymnasium, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2008 “for the purpose of having any contact whatsoever with children that are not in his custody”
·         §§ 18.2-370.3 (Residency)
Ø      A primary, secondary or high school, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim
Ø      A child day center (as defined in § 63.2-100 ), if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim
Ø      The boundary line of any place he knows is a public park, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2008 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim  when such park:
                                                           (i) Is owned and operated by a county, city or town
                                                           (ii) Shares a boundary line with a primary, secondary, or high school
                                                           (iii) Is regularly used for school activities
                        * The residence is allowed if the school, daycare or park is established subsequent to his conviction
·         §§ 18.2-370.4 (Employment or Volunteering)
Ø      A primary, secondary or high school, if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim
Ø      A child day center if the conviction is on or after July 1, 2006 and if the Offender is 3 or more years older than the victim 

This means anyone convicted of a similar crime in any of the 49 other States, in a Military Court, In an Indian Tribal Court, in A US Federal Court or in another country no must abide by Virginia’s Residency and Loitering laws. 

And the Virginia State Police (VSP) plans on applying this change in law retroactively to anyone who has already be living in Virginia as an RSO with a non-Virginia conviction. 

The Residency Portion: 

Now I got a grandfather clause added (after both the House and Senate Patrons refused to add it) for residences established prior to July 1, 2017 so no ones current residence becomes a felony, for the RSO to become homeless.  

BUT any RSO who moves after this coming July 1st needs to avoid moving into an apartment/townhouse or buying a house within 500 ft. of a school, a daycare or a public park or face a felony.  

The problem is those who are affected by this retroactive changes in law have no idea that they are now obligated to abide by it. During the 2017 GA session I attempted to get a second amendment that would require the VSP to notify those RSO’s who would be affected and the VSP Representative claimed to the VA Senate Courts of Justice Committee they had no way of knowing how many were included so they couldn’t notify them. I tried to get a disclaimer for notification to the affected RSO’s but it was denied. 

So these RSO’s will move to a new residence, they’ll register their new address with the VSP within the 3 day deadline per law and will have no idea until their VSP Trooper or Compliance Officer comes to their new home to confirm the change, they committed a felony by moving in. 

The Loitering Portion:
So current the RSO’s who will fall under this new prohibition on July 1st are legally allowed to drop-off and pick-up their children, step-children or grandchildren from school or school-sponsored activities within 100ft from the school property. But as of July 1st, it will be a felony and as I mentioned above there will be NO NOTIFICATION being given to those who are expected to obey they new law. Why? Because the Virginia State Police who are in charge of the management and monitoring of Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders claimed they would be unable to notify the specific RSO’s. 

FYI, Virginia’s Trespassing Law requires posted signage OR prior notification for it to be a crime. But neither is required for VA’s Residency or Loitering Laws. Why? Because they are Sex Offenders! 

In my opinion this is an intentional State-Sponsored Trap to arrest, charge and convict RSO’s who have been doing everything required of them for years but the 2017 Virginia Legislature, Governor McAuliffe and the State Police have retroactively changed the rules-of-the-game and refuse to give them any sort of heads up.
New Law #2:
HB1559 originally had nothing to do with Registered Sex Offenders then it was amended by the House Transportation Committee on January 16th to include them. 

As of July 1, 2017 any 70+ year old Registered Sex Offender who does not have a VA-DMV Drivers License but instead needs a VA-DMV Special Identification Card is now prohibited from renewing online or through the mail. They MUST now register in-person at a VA-DMV location, even though they no longer drive. 

Plus for all RSO’s the VA-DMV Special Identification Card isn’t valid for 8 years (as it is for everyone else) but it’s ONLY valid for 5 years. 

So elderly Virginia RSO’s must get someone to take them to a VA-DMV location in the month of their 70, 75, 80, 85 and 90 birthdays to renew their cards. 

These identification cards are needed for doctor’s visits, banking, social security, etc and the State of Virginia has decided anyone listed on the VSP Registry not only can not renew online of through the mail but their card is valid for 37% less time than any other Virginian. 

How is shortening the validity of an identification card AND preventing elderly RSO’s from renewing their cards like everyone else, NOT a punitive act?

So these are the 2 legal changes for Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders in 2017.  If you or someone you love falls into the population for either of these changes in law, I’m sorry I couldn’t stop these Bills or at least get them amended. None of these changes in Virginia law makes us safer and none is based on evidence-based policies. Both of these changes in VA law came from fear, hate and vengeance everything I have been fighting for the last 9 VA General Assembly sessions. 

You can track back the history of these Bills from the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session including any past action items and any media that occurred during and after session. 

As always if you are in doubt on what your or your loved ones legal obligations are in Virginia as an RSO you can check the Do’s and Don’ts page  OR the Virginia Code page. 

Mary Devoy