Print Print
June 29, 2010 Published in Courts & Crime, From Richmond

New Public Safety Measures Take Effect Thursday

Includes Legislation Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence; Combating Gangs; Providing for those that Protect Us; Making Virginia a Safer Place to Work and Raise a Family

Governor Bob McDonnell today highlighted numerous pieces of public safety legislation that are set to take effect on July 1st.  As part of his legislative agenda, the Governor enhanced protection of victims of domestic violence, extended disability benefits for State Police officers, and strengthened the sex offender registry.  Throughout his career, Governor McDonnell has been a leading advocate for enhanced public safety measures to protect Virginians.  As Attorney General, he modernized and enhanced Virginia’s sex offender registry as well as provided law enforcement with the tools they need to combat identity theft, gangs and sexual predators, among other crimes.

Speaking about the enhanced public safety laws, Governor McDonnell noted, “My primary responsibility as Governor is to ensure that we protect the citizens of the Commonwealth.  As a former prosecutor and attorney general, I know the importance of making sure that our law enforcement officials have the tools and resources they need to combat crime and keep Virginian’s safe.  Combating domestic violence is truly a collaborative effort and we must all work together to provide assistance to victims of these crimes and to make sure they have the protection they need.  We worked with victims’ advocacy groups and law enforcement to ensure that protective orders can be extended for additional security and to make Virginia’s protective order forms more consistent with those in neighboring states to enhance cross-jurisdictional enforcement. I also signed legislation to extend disability benefits for State Police officers.  These men and women continually put their lives on the line to protect Virginians.  When these selfless public servants are injured in the line of duty, it is imperative we give them the time and financial security they need to recover.  I thank the General Assembly for its recognition of the importance of public safety, even during these tough economic times.

Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker, added, “The Governor understands the importance of providing our public safety community with the tools necessary to keep our streets safe.  He recognizes that strong laws combined with aggressive crime prevention efforts, and effective integration of offenders back into their communities after incarnation, enables our neighborhoods to thrive and grow.  This theme will remain the mission throughout the remainder of Governor McDonnell’s term.”

Delegate Rob Bell (R- Charlottesville), commented on HB 927, one of the bills he patroned this session, “Virginia is continually trying to improve and innovate the criminal justice system’s approach to combating supervision violations. These two pilot programs will provide evidence on the success of immediate sanction probation for supervised offenders when they are met with swift consequences for violations of their probation.”

Public Safety Laws Taking Effect July 1st:

SB468 (Howell)/ HB930 (Bell) – Extension of Protective Orders

  • Allows a petitioner who has obtained a protective order in a case of family abuse or stalking to seek an extension of the order for up to 2 years.  Keeps Virginians safer by making it easier for victims who continue to be in danger to maintain valid protective orders.
  • The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and crime victim advocacy organizations joined Governor McDonnell in supporting this bill because, in short, it will make it easier for victims who continue to be in danger to maintain valid protective orders.

SB467 (Howell)/ HB931 (Bell) – Protective Order Coordination with Other States

  • Legislation requires the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court to consult annually with judicial authorities of adjacent states and allow the Executive Secretary to consult with judicial authorities of any other state concerning the forms used in the issuance of protective orders. To the extent feasible, the Executive Secretary must coordinate the contents of protective order forms with other states in order to facilitate the enforcement of their protective orders in the Commonwealth and the enforcement of Virginia protective orders in other states.
  • The consultation and coordination required by these bills will promote improvements and greater consistency in protective order forms used in Virginia and other states which will, in turn, make them more likely to be properly enforced.

HB682 (Miller, J.H.) – Creates Gang-Free Zones

  • Expands penalty enhancements for gang activities to include those occurring on the property of any publicly owned or operated community center or recreational center.
  • This legislation expands gang-free zones to include places where youth congregate and may be targeted, either as victims of gang activity or for potential recruitment. As a result, law enforcement officers and prosecutors will be better able to combat gangs and deter those who would target youth.

SB486 (Hurt)/ HB1121 (Gilbert) – Sharing Juvenile Criminal Gang-Related Activity

  • Places an affirmative duty on the Department of Juvenile Justice to provide information to law–enforcement that may aid in initiating or furthering an investigation of a criminal street gang.
  • Also requires, rather than allows, the Department or locally operated court services unit to release to law enforcement information on a juvenile’s criminal street gang involvement and the criminal street gang–related activity of others.  The Department is prohibited from releasing information on a juvenile who is not affiliated with a gang unless the information relates to a specific crime. The Department is required to provide information to the Organized Criminal Gang File maintained by the State Police.

SB520 (Norment)/ HB934 (Bell) – Expands Death Penalty to Include Auxiliary Police

  • Legislation adds auxiliary police officers and auxiliary deputy sheriffs to the capital murder statute so that the death penalty can be imposed for their murder.
  • Creates equity in the capital murder statute for these auxiliary officers and deputies. Currently, the statute only applied to other law enforcement officers, including ABC special agents, DMV enforcement personnel and Lottery security.

HB1159 (Oder) – Improves Virginia’s “Move Over” Law

  • Requires drivers to move to the left, or proceed with due caution at a safe highway speed, on certain highways when approaching vehicles displaying flashing blue, red or amber lights. This bill further protects law enforcement officers and emergency personnel working on the shoulders of Virginia highways by ensuring they are protected by the “Move Over” law when their emergency lights are activated.
  • Importantly, this bill also adds certain vehicles displaying flashing amber lights to the list of vehicles protected by this code section.

HB857 (Carrico) – Protects Line of Duty Death Investigations

  • This Bill provides that Line of Duty investigations shall be deemed confidential, exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • This legislation protects the confidential information, evidence, and documents developed during Line of Duty investigations to protect the parties involved in the investigations.

SB95 (Quayle) – Extending Disability Benefits for State Police Officers

  • Provides that a state police officer who incurs a work-related injury in the line of duty shall receive supplemental short-term disability coverage providing income replacement for 100 percent of the officer’s creditable compensation for up to one calendar year. At the end of the one-year period, the officer would be eligible for supplemental long-term disability benefits, which provide income replacement at 60 percent of the officer’s creditable compensation.
  • Currently, the maximum period that an eligible employee generally may receive short-term disability benefits, before getting long-term disability benefits at the 60 percent rate, is 125 work days

HB1198 (Iaquinto) – Strengthens Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry

  • Legislation provides that offenses for which a condition of registration is that the offense was committed against a minor, a physically helpless person or a mentally incapacitated person, the court shall determine by agreement of the parties or by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the victim of the offense was a minor, physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.
  • Additionally, the legislation  provides that the residency of those offenders under the supervision of the Department of Corrections or Community Supervision pursuant to § 37.2–919 shall be verified by the State Police.

SB620 (Deeds) – Established Internet Crimes Against Children Fund

  • Legislation implements a $10 court fee on each felony or misdemeanor conviction to support the Internet Crimes Against Children Fund.
  • Monies in this new Fund will be disbursed to the Virginia State Police to support the Northern Virginia and Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children programs, to the Department of Criminal Justice Services to support grants, training, and equipment for local law-enforcement agencies’ use in investigating and prosecuting Internet crimes against children and to the Department of Social Services to support the Virginia Child Protection Accountability System.

HB585 (Landes) – Improved Communication Channels between Corrections and State Police

  • Legislation provides that within 72 hours following the receipt of a written statement issued by a parole officer authorizing the arrest of a person who has violated the provisions of his post-release supervision or probation, the person’s name and other appropriate information required by the Department of State Police shall be entered into the information systems known as the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN). The information will be deemed a warrant authorizing the arrest of the person anywhere in the Commonwealth.

HB927 (R. Bell) – Establishes Immediate Sanction Probation Programs in Virginia

  • Allows the establishment of up to two immediate sanction probation programs in the Commonwealth with a two-year sunset.  The bill provides that as a condition of suspension of sentence pursuant to § 19.2-303, a defendant who was not convicted of a violent crime may be ordered to participate in an immediate sanction probation program. An offender arrested for a violation of the conditions of his probation would receive an expedited hearing before the court. An affidavit prepared by his probation and parole officer detailing the offense for which he was arrested may be received into evidence without the officer’s testimony.
  • The immediate sanction hearing is not authorized for new criminal offenses or absconding for more than seven days. Such an offender would serve no more than 30 days in jail for a probation offense.  The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission will evaluate the program. The bill allows for offenders to receive swift consequences for supervision violations by holding them more immediately accountable for noncompliance.

HB907 (R.Bell) – Reports of Certain Acts to School Authorities by Local Law-Enforcement.

  • Allows the attorney for the Commonwealth or law-enforcement, upon the request of the school superintendent, to share certain information with the school superintendent concerning a student’s delinquency case involving a misdemeanor offense listed in the statute, if such disclosure does not jeopardize the investigation or prosecution of the case.  The information that may be released includes details of (i) the terms of release from detention, (ii) the court dates, and (iii) the terms of any dispositional orders.

HB918 (R. Bell) – Releasing Confidential Information When Juvenile is a Fugitive or Escapee

  • Expands the ability to release to the public confidential information when a juvenile is a fugitive from justice or an escapee from a secure facility.  Prior to HB 918, only juveniles charged with or convicted of certain serious offenses could have identifying information released once they become a fugitive or escapee.
  • Allows the attorney for the Commonwealth to publicly release identifying information when a juvenile who is alleged to have committed any felony or misdemeanor if that juvenile becomes a fugitive.
  • The information that may be released includes the juvenile’s name, age, physical description and photograph, the charge for which he is sought or for which he was adjudicated, and any other information that may expedite his apprehension.