SB1242: Personal appearance by two-way electronic video and audio communication; entry of plea.

SENATE BILL NO. 1242

Offered January 13, 2021
Prefiled January 11, 2021
A BILL to amend and reenact § 19.2-3.1 of the Code of Virginia, relating to personal appearance by two-way electronic video and audio communication; entry of plea or nolle prosequi; adjudication of probation violations.
Patron-- Edwards

Referred to Committee on the Judiciary

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 19.2-3.1 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 19.2-3.1. Personal appearance by two-way electronic video and audio communication; standards.

A. Where an appearance is required or permitted before a magistrate, intake officer or, prior to trial, before a judge, the appearance may be by (i) personal appearance before the magistrate, intake officer, or judge or (ii) use of two-way electronic video and audio communication. With the consent of the court and all parties, an appearance in a court may be made by two-way electronic video and audio communication for the purpose of (i) entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere and the related sentencing of the defendant charged with a misdemeanor or felony, (ii) entry of a nolle prosequi, or (iii) adjudication of an alleged violation of probation.

If two-way electronic video and audio communication is used, a magistrate, intake officer, or judge may exercise all powers conferred by law and all communications and proceedings shall be conducted in the same manner as if the appearance were in person. If two-way electronic video and audio communication is available for use by a district court for the conduct of a hearing to determine bail or to determine representation by counsel, the court shall use such communication in any such proceeding that would otherwise require the transportation of a person from outside the jurisdiction of the court in order to appear in person before the court. Any documents transmitted between the magistrate, intake officer, or judge and the person appearing before the magistrate, intake officer, or judge may be transmitted by electronically transmitted facsimile process or other electronic method. The facsimile or other electronically generated document may be served or executed by the officer or person to whom sent, and returned in the same manner, and with the same force, effect, authority, and liability as an original document. All signatures thereon shall be treated as original signatures.

B. Any two-way electronic video and audio communication system used for an appearance shall meet the following standards:

1. The persons communicating must simultaneously see and speak to one another;

2. The signal transmission must be live, real time;

3. The signal transmission must be secure from interception through lawful means by anyone other than the persons communicating; and

4. Any other specifications as may be promulgated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

C. Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring a locality to purchase a two-way electronic video and audio communication system. Any decision to purchase such a system is at the discretion of the locality.