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.

The State of the Law: Key Supreme Court Rulings and Virginia Legislative Changes.

     The Supreme Court concluded the October 2014 term. Some notable cases  are:

  • Obergefell v. Hodges:  Strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional and requires states to issue marriages licenses to same sex couples and recognize lawful out-of-state marriages between same sex couples.

  • Glossip v. Gross: The Court determined that Oklahoma's use of the sedative midazolam as the first part of the lethal injection protocol does violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  

  • King v. Burwell:  Upholds section 36B of "Obama Care," or The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Section, which makes tax credits available to individuals who purchase health insurance on an exchange created by the federal government.

     Amendments to the Code of Virginia have also taken effect in 2015.

  • 18.2-250.1:  In prosecutions for possession of marijuana in the form of cannabidoil oil or THC-A, defendants can now assert as an affirmative defense that they possessed such oil pursuant to a valid written certification issued by a practitioner in the course of her/his professional practice pursuant to treatment or to alleviate the symptoms of (i) the individual's intractable epilepsy or (ii) if such individual is the parent or legal guardian of a minor, such minor's intractable epilepsy.  If the defendant files the valid written certification with the court at least 10 days prior to trial and causes a copy of such written certification to be delivered to the attorney for the Commonwealth, such written certification shall be prima facie evidence that such oil was possessed pursuant to a valid written certification.

  • 18.2-50.3:   Makes it a separate and distinct class 6 felony for a person to entice, solicit, request, or otherwise cause another to enter a dwelling house if the person intends to commit certain specified crimes, including capital murder, first and second degree murder, murder of a pregnant woman, abduction with intent to extort money or for immoral purposes, aggravated malicious wounding, robbery, rape, forcible sodomy, or object sexual penetration, within the dwelling house.

  • 19.2-310.2:  Adults convicted of the following offenses must now give a sample of her/his blood, saliva or tissue for DNA analysis:  §§ 16.1-253.2 (violation of a protective order), 18.2-60.3 (stalking), 18.2-60.4 (violation of a stalking protective order), 18.2-67.4:1 (infected sexual battery), 18.2-102 (unauthorized use of animal, aircraft, vehicle, or boat valued at less than $200), 18.2-121 (entering the property of another for purpose of damaging it), 18.2-387 (indecent exposure), 18.2-387.1 (obscene sexual display), and 18.2-479.1 (resisting arrest).  The offenses are added to five misdemeanor sex offenses that already a DNA sample to be provided: (i) § 18.2-67.4 (sexual battery), (ii) § 18.2-67.4:2 (sexual abuse of a child 13 years of age or older but under 15), (iii) § 18.2-67.5 (attempted sexual battery), (iv) § 18.2-130 (peeping), and (v) § 18.2-370.6 (penetrating the mouth of a child under 13 with the tongue). 

  • 46.2-816:  Now cars shall not follow more closely than is reasonable behind bicycles, electric assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds.

  • 20-124.2:  Courts may now order child support to be paid or continue to be paid for any child over the age of 18 who is (a) severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, and such disability existed prior to the child reaching the age of 18 or the age of 19 (b) unable to live independently and support himself; and (c) resides in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support.

Please consult The Law Office of Melinda L. VanLowe, PC, to discuss how these new laws may impact you.