RD157 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2008 Annual Report

Executive Summary:
Throughout 2008, the Crime Commission met four times: April 23, September 9, October 14, and December 9. Commission staff continued completing activities of its ongoing juvenile justice study, mandated by House Joint Resolution 113. Staff completed the analysis of surveys distributed statewide to Juvenile and Domestic Relations court judges and Court Service Unit Directors. The information obtained from the surveys and last year’s focus group meetings, as well as consultations with juvenile justice professionals, assisted in formulation of final recommendations and best practices. A thorough review was also conducted of Title 16.1, Chapter 11, of the Code of Virginia to determine if statutes were unnecessary, duplicative, or in need of either a revision or rewrite. At its December meeting, the Crime Commission voted to endorse legislation to amend certain statutes set forth in Title 16.1 and to continue the juvenile justice study an additional year with a specific focus on the certification and transfer of juveniles to circuit court.

In addition to mandated studies, the Commission also conducted studies pertaining to the private sale of firearms at gun shows, the grand larceny threshold amount, capital murder of firefighters, the utilization of Virginia’s gang statutes, criminalizing the unintentional cause of a miscarriage, the killing of a newborn baby as it relates to the common law “independent and separate existence” requirement, and the sale of prohibited tinted license plate covers. The Commission reviewed and reported on recent developments in case law pertaining to misdemeanor arrests under § 19.2-74 of the Code of Virginia and the authority of courts to defer the disposition of a sentence. The Commission also inquired into the status and use of petitions of writs of actual innocence.

In addition to the aforementioned studies and reviews, and as part of continued efforts resulting from House Joint Resolution 116 of the 2006 Session of the General Assembly, Commission staff continued to facilitate several meetings of the Animal Control Officer Committee. The Committee discussed animal control officer duties and responsibilities, officer safety concerns, the adequacy and availability of training needs, and the appropriate oversight agency. As a result of these discussions, it was determined that a number of problematic issues exist concerning animal control officers in the Commonwealth. Such issues include, but are not limited to, public safety and officer safety issues that arise due to dangerous situations often encountered by animal control officers and the lack of statewide standardized training and certification.

The Commission approved legislation for the 2009 Session of the General Assembly relating to the presence of State Police at guns shows, the expansion of the availability of writs of actual innocence to non-incarcerated individuals, capital murder of fire marshals with law enforcement powers, the killing of a newborn baby, the oversight of animal control officers, juvenile justice, the composition of the Virginia Forensic Science Board, and notification to convicted persons of the existence of evidence from their old case files that is suitable for DNA testing.

In accordance with § 9.1-1109(A)(7) and § 19.2-163.02, respectively, the Commission’s Director also participated as an active member of the Virginia Forensic Science Board and the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission.