Finally, well, almost finally, the General Assembly has completed its special session and vacated Richmond for the moment. Marijuana legislation still awaits the Governor’s signature. The following does not address every new law or amendment to existing law, only those in my opinion, of interest to my fellow citizens. Unless otherwise noted, all changes are effective July 1, 2022.
The prohibition of selling, bartering, giving, furnishing of possessing with the intent to sell, barter, give, or furnish a switchblade is eliminated.
Effective March 22, 2022, no passenger car, pickup truck, or panel truck shall be operated on the highway if it has been modified so as to increase the height of the front bumper to be more than four (4) inches greater than the height of the rear bumper. Hunting on Sunday on public or private lands is permitted so long as it occurs more than 200 yards from a place of worship.
The prosecution of an alleged misdemeanor offense of causing or encouraging acts rendering children delinquent where an alleged adult offender has consensual sex with a minor 15 years or older at the time of the offense shall be commenced no later than 5 years after the victim reaches majority (age 18) if the adult offender was more than 3 years older than the victim at the time of the offense.
The term “incapacitated adult” is changed to “vulnerable adult” for purposes of the crime of abuse and neglect of such adults. Vulnerable adult is defined as a person 18 years of age or older who is impaired by reason of mental illness, intellectual of developmental disability, physical illness or disability, or other causes, including age, to the extent the adult lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make, communicate or carry out reasonable decisions concerning his well-being or has one or more limitations that substantially impair the adult’s ability to independently provide for his daily needs or safe guard his person, property, or legal interests. It is now a class 1 misdemeanor for an agent under a power of attorney to knowingly or intentionally engage in financial exploitation of an incapacitated adult who is the principal of that agent.
A person may be prosecuted for a stalking charge in the jurisdiction where such person resides at the time of the stalking. Evidence of any conduct that occurred outside of Virginia may be admissible, if relevant, in any stalking trial. Law enforcement officers may make an arrest without a warrant when in close pursuit and the arrest is made beyond the boundary of the jurisdiction from which the arrestee fled. The law enforcement officer shall procure a warrant(s) from the magistrate serving the jurisdiction where the arrest was made, changing the arrestee with an offense(s) in the jurisdiction where the arrest was made, charging the arrestee with offense in the jurisdiction from where he fled, and any offense(s) committed during the close pursuit where such offense(s) occurred.
Those riding bicycles, electric personal mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles or motorized skateboards or scooters two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic and shall, as quickly as practicable, move into a single file formation when being overtaken by a faster moving vehicle.
Criminal investigative files relating to a criminal investigation or proceeding that is not ongoing are excluded from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Exceptions are provided for attorneys representing a petitioner or inspection by an attorney or a person proceeding pro se (without benefit of counsel) in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus or writ of actual innocence. No criminal investigative file shall be disclosed to any requester except the victim, immediate family members, if the victim is deceased, or the victim’s parents or guardian if the victim is a minor. If the immediate family member and/or the parent or guardian is considered a person or interest or a suspect in the investigation or proceeding, there is a provision whereby the circuit court of the jurisdiction can issue an injunction preventing disclosure.
Credit for time spent in confinement while awaiting trial will now include any time spent in pretrial confinement or dentition on separate charges that are from the same act as the violation for which the person was convicted and are dismissed or not prosecuted.
New legislation clarifies that if the owner of a place to be searched pursuant to a search warrant is not present, a copy of the search warrant and affidavit shall be given to at least one adult occupant of the place to be searched.
Commencing July 1, 2022, a person is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and causes death or serious bodily injury of a vulnerable road user. The previous statute only mentioned serious bodily injury. Upon conviction, one’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle may be suspended or restricted for up to six months.
Any person who knowingly (i) engages in sexual contact with an animal; (ii) causes another by force, threat, or intimidation to engage in sexual contact with an animal; (iii) advertises, solicits, offers, sells, purchases, or possesses an animal with the intent that the animal be subject to sexual contact; (iv) permits sexual contact with an animal to be conducted on any premises under his ownership or control; or (v) produces, distributes, publishes, sells, transmits, finances, possesses, or possesses with intent to distribute, publish, sell, or transmit an obscene item depicting a person engaged in sexual contract with an animal is guilty of a class 6 felony (1-5 years in the penitentiary or up to 12 mos. in jail.).
A law enforcement officer or animal control officer is required to apply to a magistrate for a summons for a vicious dog if such officer is in either the jurisdiction where the dog resides or where the dog committed an act set forth in the definition of vicious dog. Currently, such action is required only if the officer is in the jurisdiction where the dog resides. Any dog engaged in lawful hunting must wear a substantial collar with a tag that identifies the name of the owner or custodian of the dog and a current phone number.
Willfully, breaking, tampering, injuring, or removing any part of a motor vehicle, aircraft, boat, vessel or temporarily or permanently preventing its useful operation when such actions involve the breaking, injuring, tampering with, or removal of a catalytic converter or the parts thereof is a class 6 felony. This new legislation is clearly a response to the drastic increase in catalytic converter thefts.
Motor vehicles, trailers, and semi-trailers exempted from the registration requirement must be covered by motor vehicle insurance, a general liability policy or an umbrella or excess liability policy. An owner must provide proof of the above insurance within 30 days when requested by a law enforcement officer or be subject to a $600.00 fine to be paid into the Uninsured Motorist Fund.
Again, I emphasize the preceding materials do not address all changes to the law or all new legislation from the past General Assembly. Any questions may be addressed by calling my direct line at (804) 365-6186.
As always, my thanks to my fellow citizens for the privilege of serving as your Commonwealth’s Attorney and for your support. R. E. "Trip" Chalkley, Commonwealth's Attorney.