Writ of actual innocence; petition by convicted person. (SB511)

Introduced By

Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Petition for writ of actual innocence. Provides that a person who was convicted of a felony or who was adjudicated delinquent by a circuit court of an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult may petition for a writ of actual innocence based on biological evidence or nonbiological evidence regardless of the type of plea he entered at trial. Under current law, such person may petition for a writ based on biological evidence if he entered a plea of not guilty, and any person, regardless of the type of plea he entered at trial, may petition for such writ if he is sentenced to death or convicted or adjudicated delinquent of murder or a felony for which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for life. The bill also (i) allows a writ of actual innocence based on nonbiological evidence to be granted if scientific testing of previously untested evidence, regardless of whether such evidence was available or known at the time of conviction, proves that no trier of fact would have found proof of guilt of the person petitioning for the writ, provided that the testing procedure was not available at the time of conviction, and (ii) eliminates the provision that limits a petitioner to only one writ of actual innocence based on nonbiological evidence for any conviction. The bill provides that the petitioner must prove the allegations supporting either type of writ of actual innocence by a preponderance of the evidence. Currently, the petitioner must prove such allegations by clear and convincing evidence. Finally, the bill clarifies that the Attorney General may join a petition for a writ of actual innocence filed in connection with an adjudication of delinquency. This bill is identical to HB 974. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/07/2020Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/07/2020Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/20 20104713D
01/07/2020Referred to Committee on the Judiciary
01/08/2020Moved from Courts of Justice to Judiciary due to a change of the committee name
02/04/2020Impact statement from DPB (SB511)
02/05/2020Reported from Judiciary (10-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/05/2020Rereferred to Finance and Appropriations
02/06/2020Reported from Finance and Appropriations with amendment (15-Y 1-N) (see vote tally)
02/10/2020Impact statement from DPB (SB511)
02/10/2020Constitutional reading dispensed (36-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/11/2020Read second time
02/11/2020Reading of amendment waived
02/11/2020Committee amendment agreed to
02/11/2020Engrossed by Senate as amended SB511E
02/11/2020Printed as engrossed 20104713D-E
02/11/2020Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/11/2020Read third time and passed Senate (23-Y 17-N) (see vote tally)
02/14/2020Placed on Calendar
02/14/2020Read first time
02/14/2020Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/19/2020Reported from Courts of Justice with amendment (12-Y 8-N) (see vote tally)
02/19/2020Referred to Committee on Appropriations
02/21/2020Reported from Appropriations (13-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
02/24/2020Impact statement from DPB (SB511E)
02/25/2020Read second time
02/26/2020Read third time
02/26/2020Committee amendment agreed to
02/26/2020Engrossed by House as amended
02/26/2020Passed House with amendment (56-Y 44-N)
02/26/2020VOTE: Passage (56-Y 44-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2020Passed by temporarily
02/28/2020House amendment agreed to by Senate (23-Y 14-N) (see vote tally)
03/05/2020Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB511ER)
03/06/2020Signed by Speaker
03/07/2020Signed by President
03/12/2020Enrolled Bill Communicated to Governor on March 12, 2020
03/12/2020G Governor's Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., April 11, 2020
03/20/2020Impact statement from DPB (SB511ER)
04/09/2020G Approved by Governor-Chapter 994 (effective 7/1/20)
04/09/2020G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0994)