Trespass; use of an unmanned aircraft system, penalty. (SB526)

Introduced By

Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Trespass; unmanned aircraft system; penalty. Provides that any person who knowingly and intentionally causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property of another and come within 50 feet of a dwelling house (i) to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person or (ii) after having been given notice to desist, for any other reason, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill also provides that any person who is required to register with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry who uses or operates an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally (a) follow or contact another person without such person's permission or (b) capture images of another person without such person's permission when such images render the person recognizable is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Additionally, any respondent of a permanent protective order who uses or operates an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally follow, contact, or capture images of any individual named in the protective order is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill also repeals the expiration of the prohibition on local regulation of privately owned, unmanned aircraft systems, clarifies the scope of such prohibition, and clarifies that such prohibition extends to all political subdivisions and not only to localities. This bill is identical to HB 638. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/09/2018Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18104450D
01/09/2018Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/24/2018Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/24/2018Committee substitute printed 18104997D-S1
01/26/2018Constitutional reading dispensed (35-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/29/2018Read second time
01/29/2018Reading of substitute waived
01/29/2018Committee substitute rejected 18104997D-S1
01/29/2018Floor substitute printed 18106122D-S2 (Obenshain)
01/29/2018Substitute by Senator Obenshain agreed to 18106122D-S2
01/29/2018Engrossed by Senate - floor substitute SB526S2
01/30/2018Read third time and passed Senate (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/05/2018Placed on Calendar
02/05/2018Read first time
02/05/2018Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/05/2018Impact statement from DPB (SB526S2)
02/15/2018Assigned Courts sub: Subcommittee #1
02/21/2018Subcommittee recommends reporting with substitute (7-Y 1-N)
03/02/2018Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (13-Y 3-N) (see vote tally)
03/02/2018Committee substitute printed 18107309D-H1
03/05/2018Impact statement from DPB (SB526H1)
03/06/2018Read second time
03/07/2018Read third time
03/07/2018Committee substitute agreed to 18107309D-H1
03/07/2018Engrossed by House - committee substitute SB526H1
03/07/2018Passed House with substitute (80-Y 18-N)
03/07/2018VOTE: PASSAGE (80-Y 18-N) (see vote tally)
03/07/2018Reconsideration of House passage agreed to by House
03/07/2018Passed by until the end of the calendar
03/07/2018Passed House with substitute 18107309D-H1 (78-Y 19-N)
03/07/2018VOTE: PASSAGE #2 (78-Y 19-N) (see vote tally)
03/08/2018House substitute rejected by Senate (2-Y 38-N) (see vote tally)
03/08/2018House insisted on substitute
03/08/2018House requested conference committee
03/08/2018Senate acceded to request (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/08/2018Conferees appointed by Senate
03/08/2018Senators: Obenshain, Stanley, Lucas
03/08/2018Conferees appointed by House
03/08/2018Delegates: Bell, Robert B., Gilbert, Mullin
03/09/2018C Amended by conference committee
03/09/2018Conference substitute printed 18108152D-S3
03/09/2018Conference report agreed to by House (84-Y 14-N)
03/09/2018VOTE: ADOPTION (84-Y 14-N) (see vote tally)
03/09/2018Conference report agreed to by Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/09/2018Impact statement from DPB (SB526S3)
03/20/2018Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB526ER)
03/20/2018Impact statement from DPB (SB526ER)
03/20/2018Signed by Speaker
03/22/2018Signed by President
03/26/2018Enrolled Bill Communicated to Governor on March 26, 2018
03/26/2018G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, April 9, 2018
04/09/2018Governor's recommendation received by Senate
04/18/2018Amendments #1, #2 Passed by for the day
04/18/2018Senate concurred in Governor's recommendation amendments #3, #4 (39-Y 0-N)
04/18/2018House concurred in Governor's recommendation amendments #3 and 4 (94-Y 0-N 1-A)
04/18/2018VOTE: ADOPTION (94-Y 0-N 1-A)
04/18/2018G Governor's recommendation adopted in-part
04/18/2018Communicated to Governor
04/18/2018Reenrolled bill text (SB526ER2)
04/18/2018Signed by President as reenrolled
04/18/2018Signed by Speaker as reenrolled
04/18/2018Reenrolled bill Communicated to Governor on 4/18/18
04/18/2018G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, May 18, 2018
05/18/2018G Approved by Governor-Chapter 852 (effective 7/1/18)
05/18/2018G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0852)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 3 clips in all, totaling 3 minutes.

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: HB638.


Mary D. Devoy writes:

Without spelling it out in so many words, this Bill makes the use of a drone by ANY Virginia Registered Sex Offender (non-Violent and Violent) illegal.

Drones record that's how you see where you are flying there is no way not to violate this proposed law.

It could be amended for capturing the image of a person "in a private setting " that would stop arbitrary arrests.

Everyone else who violates this proposed law would get a warning on 1st offense, but NOT RSO's?

Even if the RSO has permission to capture images by family, friends, property owners or employer they've committed a crime.

Lines 29-32 of this Bill need to be stricken.

Mary D. Devoy writes:

This Bill balances protections for the operators as well as citizen’s privacy.

However, for ANYONE listed on the VSP Sex Offender Registry, there are NO such protections. WITHOUT including the words 'coerce, intimidate or harass' there is no criminal component which makes this Bill overly broad. Including the words 'knowingly' and 'intentionally' in no way lessens this burden.

If a Registrant is using a drone on their own property and they capture an image of a trespasser, they’ve committed a crime.

If their job includes the use of a drone perhaps to survey land where workers are present, they’ve committed a crime.

If they are flying their drone over a public street, park or forest where there is no expectation of privacy and capture ANY image of anyone, they’ve committed a crime.

This is NOT equal protection under the law.

I envision in the vain attempt to enforce this law ANY Registrant that owns a drone, would be subjected to multiple, baseless investigations simply because they are a Sex Offender.

THIS Bill is essentially a BAN for ALL Registrants to EVER operate a drone while cleverly avoiding such words like, ‘prohibiting’.

Back in September of 2015 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals (Wisconsin v. Christopher J. Oatman) overturned a law banning Registered Sex Offenders from taking photos that capture the image of a child in public, as a 1st Amendment violation.

THIS Bill bans ANY image, of ANY person, ANYWHERE.

The Virginia Sex Offender Registry must remain an administrative tool and cannot be used as a blanket excuse to eliminate freedoms afforded to everyone else.

The portion of this Bill about Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry must be stricken.