Arrest or summons; charge for misdemeanor at discretion of law-enforcement officer. (HB436)

Introduced By

Del. Jackson Miller (R-Manassas)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Misdemeanor arrest or summons at discretion of law-enforcement officer. Gives a law-enforcement officer the choice of issuing a summons and releasing the person or arresting him for Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors. Under current law, the law-enforcement officer must release the person on a summons for most Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors unless the person fails to stop the unlawful act or indicates that he will not appear as directed in the summons. The bill also requires the officer to arrest the person if he fails to stop the unlawful act; currently arrest is discretionary when the person fails to stop the unlawful act. Amends § 19.2-74, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


  • 01/04/2008 Committee
  • 01/04/2008 Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 081015640
  • 01/04/2008 Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
  • 01/16/2008 Assigned Courts sub: Criminal
  • 01/17/2008 Impact statement from DPB (HB436)
  • 02/04/2008 Reported from Courts of Justice (19-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/04/2008 Referred to Committee on Appropriations
  • 02/06/2008 Assigned App. sub: Public Safety (Sherwood)
  • 02/08/2008 Reported from Appropriations (24-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/09/2008 Read first time
  • 02/11/2008 Read second time and engrossed
  • 02/12/2008 Read third time and passed House (87-Y 12-N)
  • 02/12/2008 VOTE: --- PASSAGE (87-Y 12-N) (see vote tally)
  • 02/12/2008 Communicated to Senate
  • 02/13/2008 Constitutional reading dispensed
  • 02/13/2008 Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
  • 02/14/2008 Assigned Courts sub: Criminal
  • 03/03/2008 Left in Courts of Justice (15-Y 0-N)


CG2 Consulting, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

This bill gives officers on the street unfettered discretion either to arrest or summons a person who is alleged to be committing a class 2 or class 1 misdemeanor. Currently, state law says that an officer must issue a summons unless he reasonably believes that the person involved is a danger to self or others, won't stop committing the alleged offense or won't show up in response to the summons. There is no predicate factual basis for making this radical change in the law, nor is there any means by which the discretionary action by officers can be tracked to determine if there is evidence of biased-based policing resulting from this delegation of unguided decision-making.

An identical proposal was defeated in the legislature last year, and it should be defeated again this year.

Mr S writes:

This bill is contrary to good policy - it will diminish Fourth Amendment and privacy rights in Virginia and give police officers the discretion to arrest and search an individual in hundreds of new scenarios.