RD268 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2020 Annual Report

Executive Summary:

The Crime Commission engaged in a wide variety of studies and projects throughout 2020. Crime Commission staff continued work on the Virginia Pre-Trial Data Project while also conducting several new studies, including earned sentence credits, expungement and sealing of criminal records, mandatory minimum sentences, and the vacatur of convictions for sex trafficking victims.

The Crime Commission held a meeting on August 31, 2020, to hear staff presentations on the expungement and sealing of criminal records and earned sentence credits. At the meeting, members endorsed legislation to create a system in Virginia to automatically seal numerous felony and misdemeanor convictions, as well as criminal charges that did not result in a conviction, on individuals’ criminal history records and in court records. Members also endorsed legislation to increase and retroactively apply the maximum amount of earned sentence credits that an inmate can be awarded to reduce their overall term of incarceration.

The Crime Commission also held a meeting on January 5, 2021, to hear staff presentations on mandatory minimum sentences, the Virginia Pre-Trial Data Project, and the vacatur of convictions for sex trafficking victims. Members endorsed legislation which:

• Repealed all mandatory minimum sentences in the Code of Virginia;

• Allowed for the possible re-sentencing of inmates who remained incarcerated for a felony offense requiring a mandatory minimum sentence, except for Class 1 felonies and inmates with a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment;

• Required the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission to annually collect and report on pre-trial data and to make such data publicly available;

• Mandated that the Crime Commission provide the October 2017 dataset from the Virginia Pre-Trial Data Project to the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, which must then make the dataset publicly available;

• Created a process for sex trafficking victims who were convicted or adjudicated delinquent of prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, or maintaining a bawdy place to have their convictions or adjudications vacated by a circuit court; and,

• Divided Virginia’s prostitution statute (Va. Code § 18.2-346) into two separate Code sections to better distinguish between prostitution and solicitation of prostitution offenses.

Crime Commission legislation was ultimately enacted to seal criminal history and court records (automatic and petition-based sealing), increase and retroactively award earned sentence credits to state responsible inmates, replicate the Virginia Pre-Trial Data Project and make such pre-trial data available to the public, allow for the vacatur of certain convictions and adjudications of delinquency for sex trafficking victims, and divide Virginia’s prostitution statute into two Code sections. Legislation from the Crime Commission to repeal all mandatory minimum sentences in the Code of Virginia was left in a conference committee between the Senate and the House of Delegates.

Summaries of Crime Commission legislation introduced during the 2020 Special Session and 2021 Regular Session of the General Assembly are included within each report.

Additional information about these studies and presentations are available on the agency website at vscc.virginia.gov.