2019 Virginia Law Changes

The following laws took effect in Virginia on July 1, 2019:

Deferral of jury service for persons who have legal custody of and are responsible for the care of a child

Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-341.2 (2019): A court may defer or limit jury service of persons who have legal custody of and are responsible for a child or children 16 years of age or younger requiring continuous care by such person during normal court hours to the term of court next after such period of responsibility ends. Under current law, persons with such responsibility are exempt upon request, but no provision is given for the court to defer such person's jury service until after such period of responsibility ends.

Prostitution and sex trafficking

Va. Code Ann. §§ 18.2-347 through 18.2-350 (2019): Any adult who commits an act of aiding prostitution or illicit sexual intercourse or using a vehicle to promote prostitution or unlawful sexual intercourse, when such act involves a minor, is now guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Minimum age for purchase, possession, and sale of tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products

Va. Code Ann. §§ 18.2-246.8, 18.2-246.10, and 18.2-371.2 (2019): Increases the minimum age for persons prohibited from purchasing or possessing tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products, and the minimum age for persons such products can be sold to, from 18 years of age to 21 years of age with an exception for active duty military personnel. Tobacco products, nicotine vapor products, and alternative nicotine products may be sold from a vending machine if there is posted notice of the minimum age requirements and the machine is located in a place that is not open to the general public and not generally accessible to persons under 21 years of age.

Safe reporting of overdoses

Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-251.03 (2019): You are no longer required to substantially cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation of any criminal offense reasonably related to an overdose in order to qualify for an affirmative defense from prosecution for the unlawful purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, intoxication in public, or possession of controlled paraphernalia.

Child abuse and neglect; mandatory reporters

Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-1509 (2019): Ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, and duly accredited practitioners of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church are now required to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Clergy members are exempted from the mandatory reporting requirement when the information supporting the suspicion of child abuse or neglect (i) is required by the doctrine of the religious organization or denomination to be kept confidential or (ii) would be subject to the exemptions set forth in § 8.01-400 or 19.2-271.3 if offered as evidence in court.

Custody and visitation orders; exchange of child

Va. Code § 20-124.3 (2019): Provides that in custody and visitation cases, at the request of either party, the court may order that the exchange of a child take place at an appropriate meeting place.

Move over law

Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-861.1 (2019): Defines as reckless driving the failure to yield the right-of-way or reduce speed when approaching emergency vehicles or public utility vehicles on a highway with flashing, blinking or alternating blue, red or amber lights reckless driving. This offense is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor or, if the person’s license had been suspended or revoked due to a moving violation and the reckless driving was the sole and proximate cause of death of another, a Class 6 felony. The punishment for anyone convicted of reckless driving who, when he committed the offense, was texting while driving must include a mandatory minimum fine of $250.