28 June 2005

New Laws

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's almost that time of year again when Virginia gets new laws ( 01 July). Here are the change which caught my eye (plagiarized from VSB's Criminal Law News which plagiarized them from The Acts of the General Assembly, 2005).

Criminal Law

Murder of someone under 18 requires the convicted to register as a sex offender and be put on the web page. Va. Code secs. 9.1 - 902, 905, 907, & 913

A minor may not waive his right to counsel for an offense which would be a felony if he were an adult unless (1) he has consulted with an attorney, (2) the court determines the waiver to be free and voluntary, (3) the waiver is in writing, (4) the court finds that both the child and parent consent, & (5) the court finds the waiver is in the best interest of the child. Va. Code sec. 19.2-266. [Note: This effectively means that all minors will be required to have counsel in felony level cases. I think this is a good idea for two reasons. First, nothing goes away at 18 anymore. It may be an adjudication but it'll show up on the record as a felony conviction. Second, I've seen a couple parents who did not want their child represented because the Commonwealth of Virginia was going to charge the parent $112 to cover my court appointed fee.]

It is now a felony (up to 5 years) if an employer pays wages with a bad check Va. Code sec. 18.2-182. [Note: Gotta admit I kinda thought that was already a felony.]

Distribution of a Schedule III drug is now a felony (up to ten years) and so is distribution of a Schedule IV drug (up to 5 years). Va. Code sec. 18.2-248. [Note; Now when one of my clients gives a friend some pills for her tooth ache Street Drugs will be able to get him for a felony rather than a misdemeanor]

Hunting While Intoxicated went from a class 2 misdemeanor (up to 30 days) to a class 1 (up to 12 months). Va. Code sec. 18.2-285. [Note: Spoilsports. Can I still fish drunk?]

Law enforcement can take steps to block someone who is otherwise eligible from getting a concealed carry permit. Va. Code sec. 18.2-308.

It is a felony (up to 5 years) to provide a prisoner with a cell phone and a felony for a prisoner to have a cell phone (up to 5 years). Va. Code sec. 18.2-431.1.

Criminal Procedure

Prosecutors are "conservators of the peace." Va. Code sec. 19.2-12.

If the defendant's sanity is at issue and the defense gets its own expert to evaluate the defendant the expert is required to write a report and the defense is required to give the report to the prosecution. Va. Code sec. 19.2-169.5.

Speedy trial and double jeopardy defenses must be raised at the latest 7 days before trial, in writing, or they are forfeit. As well, the prosecution has the right to appeal any dismissal on these grounds. Va. Code secs. 19.2 - 266.2 & 398.

Counsel for accused can give a copy of the presentence report to the defendant. Va. Code sec. 19.2-299.

Detention and Diversion programs (lock in drug programs) shall not be imposed in addition to an active sentence at a state correctional facility. Va. Code secs. 19.2-316.2 & 316.3. [Note: I'm not sure if this effects the clients whom the judge only sends to jail for 6 months and then to one of the programs. I'd advise reading the new statutes once they've been published]

If an appeal is not timely filed or it is dismissed because of improper form or procedure the defense has 6 months from the time of dismissal to reinstate the appeal. Va. Code secs. 8.01-654, 19.2 - 321.1 & 321.2. [Note: These should be called the Washington Post statutes. WP has been hammering Virginia over how many appeals are dismissed due to non-substantive errors.]

Traffic Laws

If a license is suspended because of reckless driving the judge can give the defendant a restricted license. Va. Code sec. 46.2-393. [Note: Thank goodness. Do you know how tired I am of explaining that "Yes Uncle Bob got a restricted license for his DUI but that doesn't mean you can get one for your reckless driving"? For some reason that never satisfied my clients.]

You cannot watch motion pictures or video displays while driving. Va. Code sec. 46.2-1077. [Note: But, Army of Darkness is just soooo much more interesting then that semi in front of me . . .]

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