Sexual offenses; prohibiting proximity to children, penalty. (SB1152)

Introduced By

Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Mechanicsville)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children; penalty. Adds "use of a communications system to facilitate certain offenses involving children" to the offenses that prohibit an adult convicted of such an offense from loitering within 100 feet of a place he knows or has reason to know is a school or day care center and from going, for the purpose of having contact with children who are not in his custody, within 100 feet of any place owned or operated by a locality that he knows or should know is a playground, athletic field or facility, or gymnasium. Read the Bill »

Status

01/29/2013: Failed to Pass in Committee

History

DateAction
01/09/2013Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/13 13102959D
01/09/2013Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/11/2013Impact statement from VCSC (SB1152)
01/23/2013Reported from Courts of Justice with amendment (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/23/2013Rereferred to Finance
01/29/2013Passed by indefinitely in Finance (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)

Comments

Mary Devoy writes:

Two years ago when I went to my local CVS to get a flu shot there was a 45+ minute wait, so instead of waiting inside the store I went outside for some fresh air.

Within the next 5 minutes the local high school let-out and students were walking across the street, boarding buses and loading into cars. At that moment I realized that I was “loitering” by definition because I was standing less than 100 ft. from the school property line and if I happened to be a registered sex offender I could be charged with a Class 6 Felony for simply waiting for my turn to get a flu shot. It wouldn’t matter if there was any intent in my presence outside the store, all that needed to happen was a parent to recognize my face from the registry or for someone to complain that I was lurking and looking at the teens “creepily” and once it was confirmed I was a registered sex offender I would be handcuffed and hauled off.

Past and present Virginia Legislators and Governors have criminalized the simple acts of day-to-day life under the guise of if it saves one child and under the falsehood of a high recidivism rate of those listed on the registry. Restricting the movement, the residence and the employment locations of people who have past convictions does not reduce new crimes from occurring but in fact hinders their successful re-entry into society, limits their involvement and participation in their family and friends lives creating a high stress and paranoid environment for everyone.
Recently I mapped all the businesses around my local high school within the 100ft loitering restriction in addition to the CVS is a Laundromat, 2- Hair Salons, a Dry Cleaner, a Consignment Store, a Pizza shop, a Tanning Salon, a Hearing Aid store and a Cell Phone store. Just an additional 30ft. away in a third direction is a McDonalds, a Burger King and a convenience store.

Simply patronizing these local stores or waiting in their parking lot for an acquaintance or family member who is inside could become a Class 6 Felony simply because of the distance.
What if a citizen is forced to change a flat tire on the side of the road or they’ve broken down and are waiting for AAA to arrive for a tow? Should they abandon their vehicle in the middle of the street? Based on the penalty in the current statute, my advice would be yes, run!!!

For a crime to occur there is supposed to be intent, but Virginia’s loitering and residence statutes ignore Mens rea and instead the burden falls upon the citizen.

I believe there is an easy fix. Currently in section C of § 18.2-370.2 it says, for the purpose of having any contact whatsoever with children that who are not in his custody If similar wording was added to both sections A and B the current problem of citizens who are not committing a crime being wrongly charged would be solved and the true intent of the statute would be met.

I have asked all 140 Virginia Legislators to amend this portion of the statute while working on SB1152 at this year’s session, hopefully they will.

Mary Devoy writes:

Original text this bill was NOT retroactive and began on July 1, 2013 as it should.
When presented to the committee on 01/23 the date had been removed and would have been retroactively applied. I can't be in two places at once and had someone with me that day to monitor the Senate Courts of Justice while I was in House Courts of Justice raising concerns with 3 other bills in there. My assistant was ready to oppose this bill that had been conveniently changed to be retroactive with no "amendment" but legal counsel to the committee raised that exact concern before we had the chance to. The date was added back into SB1152 to begin this year as it was originally written and should have been from the start, Ex post facto.

Now we know to never trust a bill that appears not to be retroactive as it could be presented to a committee as retroactive and then moves forward. Sad to say our faith in the sponsor has disappeared as well.