Criminal proceedings; evidence of defendant's mental condition. (HB794)

Introduced By

Del. Jason Ballard (R-Pearisburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Criminal proceedings; evidence of defendant's mental condition. Repeals provisions permitting the admission of evidence by the defendant concerning a defendant's mental condition at the time of an alleged offense, including expert testimony, if such evidence is relevant, is not evidence concerning an ultimate issue of fact, and (i) tends to show the defendant did or did not have the intent required for the offense charged and (ii) is otherwise admissible pursuant to the general rules of evidence. The bill also removes provisions permitting a court to issue an emergency custody order in cases where such evidence was admitted and repeals provisions requiring the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court to collect data regarding the cases that use such evidence. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/11/2022Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/12/22 22102321D
01/11/2022Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/19/2022Impact statement from DPB (HB794)
02/15/2022Left in Courts of Justice


LRIDD (Legal Reform for the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled), tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

OPPOSE this legislation. LRIDD condemns Senate Bill 229 and urges the legislature to let the current law stand as is. Senator Obenshain's amendment seems to mistakenly assume that the exclusions in his bill will better protect Virginia's children. While this is a laudable intention, the fact is that most developmentally disabled individuals do not set out to intentionally break the law with the goal of hurting anyone. The original bill currently in effect recognizes that developmentally disabled individuals are prime candidates for rehabilitation because of their tendency to be rule followers---once the rules are explained to them. Research shows that autistic people and those with ID do not offend at a higher rate than the general population. The current iteration or amendment of this bill ignores this important fact and potentially imposes a lifetime of hardship and exclusion for both the autistic individual and his or her family. There is no empirical research to suggest Senator Obenshain's bill will improve public safety. We strongly urge the judiciary committee to consider the inherent developmental differences these individuals have from birth and their lack of criminal intent the vast majority of the time.

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