Criminal Law & Public Safety Passed Bills
There are a number of new Criminal laws which took effect on July 1, 2017. Every year the General Assembly meets in the Winter and proposes new laws and amendments to old laws. As you know, in addition to being a Criminal Attorney Fairfax VA, I have served as the Chairman of the Committee which writes these laws – the House Courts of Justice Committee, so I have had a large role in the drafting of these new laws. Here are a few of the new laws I thought were significant.
- Activation of fire alarms; reimbursement of expenses; penalty. If a person activates a fire alarm maliciously and not for an emergency they will be prosecuted and fined. Removes the condition that a building must be for public use in order for the Class 1 misdemeanor for maliciously activating a building’s fire alarm to apply. The bill authorizes any locality to provide by ordinance that a person convicted of maliciously activating a fire alarm shall be liable for the reasonable expense in responding to such a fire alarm. Current law allows such an ordinance to impose liability for the reasonable expense of an emergency response to an imitation version of a weapon of terrorism, fire bomb, other explosive device, bomb threat, or incitement of a bomb threat. The bill increases the maximum amount that a locality or volunteer emergency medical services agency may recover under such an ordinance from $1,000 to $2,500.
- Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children; penalty. In addition to severe penalties of incarceration for sex offenders, after the Defendant gets out of prison, he is limited to certain areas where he may live. This bill adds to the list of types sex offenses that will prohibit a person convicted of such offenses from being or residing in proximity to schools and certain other property where children congregate or from working on school property any offense similar to such offenses under the laws of any foreign country or political subdivision thereof or the United States or any political subdivision thereof. The prohibition regarding residing in proximity to a school that is predicated upon an offense similar to any offense under the laws of any foreign country or any political subdivision thereof, or the United States or any political subdivision thereof, only applies to residences established on and after July 1, 2017. A Criminal Attorney Fairfax VA can explain to a person convicted of these crimes, where he may and may not go and live.
- Definition of sales draft; credit card offenses; penalty. If a person purchases a valuable good or service with a person’s credit card without permission they will be convicted of forgery. This bill includes within the definition of “sales draft,” the electronic form evidencing a purchase of goods, services, or a thing of value. A person convicted of forgery of such a sales draft is guilty of a Class 5 felony.
- A bill was passed of July 1 2017 that Computer trespass; government computers and computers used for public utilities; penalty. If a person uses a public computer to trespass, the person will now be charged with a Class 6 felony. Increases the Class 1 misdemeanor computer trespass crimes to a Class 6 felony if the computer affected is one that is exclusively for the use of, or used by or for, the Commonwealth, a local government within the Commonwealth, or certain public utilities. This increase in penalty to a Felony, makes hiring a Criminal Attorney Fairfax VA necessary.
- Assault and battery; health care providers; penalty. If a health care provider is assaulted while performing his duties in the hospital or other emergency care facility will be punished to a higher extent. The bill expands the penalty for battery against a health care provider who is engaged in the performance of his duties to apply in hospitals or in emergency rooms on the premises of any clinic or other facility rendering emergency care. Under current law, the penalties only apply to a battery against an emergency health care provider. Often a Criminal Attorney Fairfax VA can help get this type of charge reduced to regular Assault and Battery. The bill requires the Department of Health to work with stakeholder groups to develop guidelines regarding the publication of penalties for battery on a health care provider and for the training of health care professionals and providers in violence prevention programs.
- Use of an electronic device to trespass; peeping into dwelling or occupied building; penalty. It is now a Class 1 misdemeanor to use an electronic device to spy into an occupied building or to enter into one’s property to spy. This bill punishes as a Class 1 misdemeanor the use of an electronic device to enter the property of another to secretly or furtively peep or spy or attempt to peep or spy into a dwelling or occupied building located on such property, unless such use occurs pursuant to a lawful criminal investigation. This bill is in response to people using drones to peep into people’s private areas, such as bedrooms or bathrooms where people are likely to be undressed.
- Providing support to terrorist to organizations; penalty. If a person knowingly provides information for a group or individual whose main objective is to perform an act of terrorism will now be guilty of a Class 3 felony. If a person or persons were harmed or killed as a result of the information it will then be treated as a Class 2 felony. Provides that any person who knowingly provides any material support to an individual or organization whose primary objective is to commit an act of terrorism and does so with the intent to further such objective is guilty of a Class 3 felony. If the provision of such material support results in the death of any person, the penalty is increased to a Class 2 felony. The bill also expands the definition of an act of terrorism to include an act committed outside the Commonwealth that would meet the definition of an act of violence if such act was committed within the Commonwealth. This bill was necessary because local police did not have jurisdiction to issue search warrants where a person was planning an attack out of the state. A Criminal Attorney Fairfax VA can explain what acts are considered an “act of terrorism.”