Children; use of communications systems to facilitate certain offenses, penalty. (HB1526)

Introduced By

Del. Mark Berg (R-Winchester)

Progress

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

Description

Use of communications systems to facilitate certain offenses involving children; penalty. Provides that a person under 18 years of age who uses a communications system for the purposes of soliciting, with lascivious intent, any child he knows or has reason to believe is at least 13 years of age but younger than 15 years of age to knowingly and intentionally commit certain sexual acts is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if such person is at least three years older than the child. The bill also provides that a person under 18 years of age who uses a communications system for the purposes of soliciting, with lascivious intent, any child he knows or has reason to believe is younger than 13 years of age to knowingly and intentionally commit certain sexual acts is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
01/06/2015Committee
01/06/2015Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/15 15101676D
01/06/2015Impact statement from VCSC (HB1526)
01/06/2015Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/10/2015Left in Courts of Justice

Comments

Safer Virginia writes:

Criminalizing the speech of children borders on insanity. Virginia’s circuit court judges comply with the sentencing guidelines recommendations in nearly 80% of the felony cases before them, virtually guaranteeing longer prison terms for these offenders and public registration as sex offenders. Requiring children to be included on the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry (Registry) is senseless. The list that is already bloated with registrants, 80% of whom are characterized as violent based solely on the nature of their offense and without any risk-based analysis. The public cannot reasonably determine risk now when viewing the public registry. Adding children will make a nearly impossible task more difficult. This punitive approach should be replaced with restorative justice for offending children. The Commonwealth should focus its attention on encouraging healing in families, rather than the destruction of society’s basic building block.

The public disclosure to which sex offenders are exposed is unprecedented, and therefore SORN is unique in the degree to which invisible sanctions are inadvertently imposed upon and experienced by loved ones of offenders. As such, SORN creates impacts that are broad, and as illustrated in this study, deep and lasting. Family members, even those who do not live with RSOs, experience harassment, threats, violence, economic hardships, difficulties with housing, and psychological stresses simply because they are related to a sex offender. Whether intended or not, the criminal justice system, via SORN policies, extends punishments to a wide swath of society beyond sex offenders.
Levenson, Jill S., and Richard Tewksbury. "Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders." Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders 34.1-2 (2009): 54-68. Springer Link. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 1 June 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Mary Devoy writes:

HB1526 Criminalizes 13, 14, 15 16 and 17 year olds “Chat” AND for the Younger Ones it Would be a Felony!

Per section F of this bill:
1. If a 13 year old chats, texts or emails about possible sexual encounters with a 16 year, 1 month or older teen per this bill the older teen has committed a Misdemeanor.
2. If a 13 year, 6 month old chats, texts or emails about possible sexual encounters with a 16 year, 7 month or older teen per this bill the older teen has committed a Misdemeanor.
3. If a 14 year old chats, texts or emails about possible sexual encounters with a 17 year, 1 month or older teen per this bill the older teen has committed a Misdemeanor.
4. If a 14 year, 6 month old chats, texts or emails about possible sexual encounters with a 17 year, 7 month or older teen per this bill the older teen has committed a Misdemeanor.

Per section G of this bill:
1. If a 12 year old chats, texts or emails about possible sexual encounters with another 12 year old per this bill the 12 year old who initiated the “sex talk” has committed a Felony.
2. If a 12 year old chats, texts or emails about possible sexual encounters with a 13 year old per this bill the older teen has committed a Felony.
3. If a 12 year old chats, texts or emails about possible sexual encounters with a 14 year old per this bill the older teen has committed a Felony.
4. And so on……….

The “solicitation” for sexual purposes could be something as casual as “you want to do it” or “how about oral” and depending on the ages of the participants it could be a misdemeanor or a felony.

Why would Dr. (Delegate) Berg want to criminalize juveniles for talking about sex with other juveniles?

This bill is not about using force, threats or intimidation against anyone in a sexual encounter.

This bill is not about proposing a juvenile become a prostitute or becomes a victim of human trafficking.

This bill is not aimed at 30, 40, 50 or 60 year olds trolling for juveniles online.

These are kids talking to kids, unless it’s an ICAC officer posing as a juvenile http://goo.gl/LL9PpD “baiting” a juvenile to start a conversation.

Even juveniles have the right to freedom of speech just like the have the right to take photos of themselves and sharing those photos with whomever they chose (as long as it’s another juvenile).

A Class 5 Felony in Virginia carries a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

HB1526 is not about protecting children.

HB1526 is meant to destroy the lives of children in Virginia under the guise of protecting them just like Radley Blako wrote in this extremely well written article We Must Destroy the Children in Order to Save Them
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/11/we-must-destroy-the-children-in-order-to-save-them/

And finally on top of all of these issues with HB1526 if convicted would these kids be labeled and listed on the Virginia State Police Sex offender Registry?

Per § 9.1-902. anyone convicted of multiple combinations of §18.2-374.1:1 or §18.2-374.3 are required to register as a Sex Offender.

This bill creates two new subsections, F and G, so I’m not sure if one or both newly created sections would require these juveniles to become public Sex Offenders.

HB1526 is counterproductive, short sighted and should NOT become law in Virginia.

ACLU-VA Criminal Justice writes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly opposes the creation of new sexting crimes for children. This behavior should be addressed by parents and educators, not prosecutors and judges. At least one study suggests that a majority of teenagers engage in sexting. We are concerned about the Commonwealth's willingness to introduce more kids into the school-to-prison pipeline, as the evidence is clear that even one interaction with the juvenile justice system makes a child more likely to reoffend. And there is no good evidence to suggest that these laws, directed at criminalizing the behavior of children, have the same deterrent effect that they might have on adults. These laws draw limited law enforcement and judicial resources away from their proper focus on violent offenses. The Commonwealth should leave the policing of teen sexting to parents and educators.