11 July 2014

Top Five New Virginia Criminal Laws

It's that time of year again. The Virginia General Assembly has gifted us with a new set of laws and changes in laws. This year they didn't change as much as they usually do (maybe they were preoccupied with some other issue), but there were some important changes. Here are the top five I spotted (in no particular order).

(A) § 18.2-386.2 - Revenge Porn Statute - If someone maliciously, with intent to harass, publishes nude or semi-nude pictures or video of another without their permission it is a class 1 misdemeanor.

COMMENT: This can be applied to anyone, but the best use that I see for this is for dealing with minors. There seem to be lots of girls sending pics of themselves to the high school love of their lives. The boy then sends the pics to all his buddies or puts it up online. Then the girl's parents want the 16 year old boy castrated and buried under the prison. Before the passage of this statute the only thing we could charge was the felony distribution of child porn. This wasn't a good fit to the situation, would tar the minor with a sexual felony that would follow him for life, and if he was guilty so was the girl. The new statute is a far better fit for the situation.

(B) §§ 17.1-275.12, 18.2-67.5:1, 18.2-346, 18.2-348, 18.2-356, 18.2-359, 18.2-361, 18.2-368, 18.2-370, 18.2-370.1, 18.2-371, and 18.2-374.3 – Various sexual crimes with minors amended so they add to sexual intercourse the acts of “anal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus.”

COMMENT: Previously, the first thing that a defense attorney went to was the Bill Clinton defense: "Yeahh, he did XXX, but it wasn't sex."

(C) No more zero tolerance policies at schools for firearms (§ 22.1-277.07 / two bills) and no more zero tolerance for drugs (§ 22.1-277.08 / three bills).

COMMENT: Yes, I know this isn't technically a criminal statute, but it is bound to have collateral affects.

(D) §§ 54.1-3401, 54.1-3443, & 54.1-3456 – After 30 days notice and a hearing, the Department of Forensic Science can declare a substance a schedule I or II drug as a controlled substance analog for 18 months. Thereafter, if the General Assembly has not acted, the substance is descheduled. A controlled substance analog is prosecuted as a schedule I or II drug.

COMMENT: This is a reaction to the synthetic drug problem. The formulas keep changing and a once yearly change of which chemicals were illegal fell hopelessly behind. NOTE that all synthetics are now schedule I, including those which were previously covered by the now defunct cannabinoid statute.

(E) New Moped Laws

§§ 46.2-600, 46.2-613, & 46.2-715 - Moped must have have title, registration and rear license plate.

§ 46.2-914 - Moped driver must have a government issued photo ID (not driver's license).

§ 46.2-915.2 - Moped driver and passenger must wear helmet or goggles or the moped must have a windshield.

COMMENT: Yes, I know that these laws were actually put in place last year, but law enforcement was forbidden (by the bill) from enforcing the statutes until this year.

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