As always, July 1, 2019, will see new laws and amendments to existing statutes take effect in the Commonwealth. The following is a summary of those new statutes and amendments to existing laws that I feel are of interest to my fellow Hanoverians. Should the reader have any questions about the laws noted herein or any statute not mentioned, please contact me at 365-6186.
The definition of “adequate shelter” for certain animals was amended to require the provision of shelter that, during hot weather, is shaded and does not readily conduct heat and, during cold weather, has a windbreak at its entrance and provides sufficient bedding material. It is now required that in order to meet the mandate that an animal be given adequate space, a tether must be at least three (3) times the length of the animal or ten (10) feet in length, whichever is greater and not cause injury or pain, not weigh more than one-tenth of the animal’s body weight, or have weights or heavy objects attached to it. Agricultural animals are exempted.
An amendment provides that any person who tortures, willfully inflicts inhumane injury or pain not connected with bona fide scientific or medical experimentation, or cruelly and unnecessarily beats, maims, or mutilates any dog or cat that is a companion animal, whether belonging to him or another, and as a direct result causes serious bodily injury to such animal, is guilty of a Class 6 felony (up to 5 years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine). Previously the animal had to die to subject the offender to a felony punishment.
The trial court is now empowered to defer proceedings in the adjudication of a dog as “dangerous”. The court is required to place conditions upon the owner and, upon a violation; the court may impose existing penalties. If the conditions are fulfilled, the court shall dismiss the proceedings against the animal and owner.
It will be a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500.00 fine) for any person to knowingly, with the intent to mislead a law enforcement agency, cause another to give a false report to any law enforcement official by publicly simulating any crime against the person or crime against property.
Any person who buys and removes timber from a landowner’s property is guilty of theft should he fail to pay by the date specified in a written agreement. If there is no written agreement, payment is to be made within 60 days of removal. A buyer’s failure to pay after the deadline within 10 days of receiving a demand for payment shall be prima facie evidence of intent to violate the statute. One guilty of such theft is subject to the penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor, and also, shall be ordered to pay three times the value of the timber removed.
Contempt of court for failure to appear may be punished summarily by fine or incarceration of up to 10 days.
Any person who orally makes a threat to kill or do bodily injury against any health care provider who is engaged in the performance of his duties in a hospital or in an emergency room on the premises of any clinic or other facility rendering emergency medical care is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Certain exceptions are provided.
The definition of illegal gambling is amended to clarify that the making, placing, or receipt of any bet or wager of money or other consideration or thing of value shall include the purchase of a product, internet access, or other thing made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake, or other consideration or thing of value by means of the operation of a gambling device, regardless of whether the chance to win may be offered in the absence of a purchase.
In addition to current law, forgery may be now prosecuted in any county or city where an issuer, acquirer, or account holder suffered a financial loss. Prosecution for offenses related to credit cards may now also occur in the county or city where the cardholder resides.
The minimum age to purchase or possess tobacco products, nicotine vapor products and alternative nicotine products was increased from 18 years of age to 21 years. There is an exception for active military personnel. These products may be sold from a vending machine if there is proper notice of the age requirement, the machine is located in a site not open to the general public and generally not accessible to those under 21.
Financial institutions may refuse to execute a transaction, delay a transaction or refuse to disburse funds if the staff believes, in good faith the transaction may in, some manner, involve financial exploitation of an aged or incapacitated adult or makes, or has actual knowledge, that another person has made, in good faith, a report to Social Services or adult protective services hotline a belief that the transaction may involve financial exploitation.
Any person, over the age of 18, convicted of capital murder of a law enforcement officer or certain other public safety officials shall be sentenced to no less than a mandatory minimum term of confinement for life.
A person convicted of a drug offense in another state may petition the general district court where he or she resides for a restricted driver’s license for limited purposes. No such restricted license shall permit the operation of a commercial vehicle.
A driver’s failure to move into a non-adjacent lane on a highway with at least 4 lanes when approaching a stationary vehicle displaying flashing, blinking, or alternating blue, red, or amber lights, or, if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, to proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed, may be charged with reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor. Currently, such an offense is a traffic offense, if it is a first offense, is a traffic infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $250.00.
With certain exceptions, any person holding a handheld personal communications device in his hand while driving in a highway work zone is subject to a mandatory $250.00 fine.
A private or religious school is now allowed to employ a school security officer and to authorize said officer to carry a firearm in the performance of his duties. The criteria for carrying a firearm are the same for a school security officer employed by a local school board.
Again, I emphasize the above is only a summary of certain legislation enacted by the General Assembly. The article does not fully discuss the provisions of the laws noted and does not mention every new law. Please contact me should the reader have any questions about any legislation, whether listed or not.
As always, a personal “thank you” to the citizens of Hanover County for allowing me the honor of serving as your Commonwealth’s Attorney.
R. E. “Trip” Chalkley, III