Flanked by law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders, members of the General Assembly, and local officials, today governor Bob McDonnell signed 20 pieces of legislation to support those who protect and serve the Commonwealth, and their families. The legislation includes bills that clarify criminal asset forfeiture laws, authorize the transfer of monies seized from criminals to fund Virginia's Public Safety Memorial, speed aid to families who lose a loved one in the line of duty, outline procedures to obtain GPS tracking search warrants, allow State Police arson investigators to obtain search warrants, and improve court procedures.
"Our first responders, regardless of their uniform or assignment, give of themselves 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that we may enjoy the freedom and liberties that are the foundation of our nation," Governor McDonnell said. "We have a duty to honor their bravery and courage through the enhancement of well-deserved benefits for first responders and their families, and the streamlining of procedures to help them carry out the difficult jobs they do day in and day out to keep all of us safe and secure."
Senator Bryce Reeves, who patroned SB685 to streamline the process for law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for GPS tracking, said, "Early this year, the Supreme Court concluded that the placement of a GPS tracking device on a suspect's vehicle constituted a search, protected by the Fourth Amendment, and required a valid search warrant before application. Like so many times before, our public safety officials quickly responded and developed a reasonable approach for a law-enforcement officer to apply for a search warrant to use a GPS tracking device. Led by Governor McDonnell, Virginia's public policymakers balanced the needs of many diverse stakeholder groups in an abbreviated timeframe to ensure an appropriate and fair response to the Supreme Court's decision, protecting both our law enforcement officials as well as our personal liberties. As a former narcotics detective I was very honored to work with the McDonnell administration, Commonwealth attorney's, and the attorney general's office to formulate and pass this critical legislation. This legislation will make it easier for officers to track criminals and conduct their investigations."
Speaking about HB348, legislation that clarified Virginia's criminal asset forfeiture laws, Delegate Jackson Miller said, "This legislation removes confusion for Virginia's law enforcement officials, Commonwealth's attorneys, judges, defense attorneys, and citizens and ensures that criminal activity does not pay for its perpetrators. Furthermore, additional legislation patroned by my colleagues Delegate Peter Farrell and Senators Chuck Colgan and Mark Obenshain will allocate the funds seized under these clarified asset forfeiture laws to use these monies to support a monument honoring the brave men and women who died ensuring safety and security in those same communities."
These laws took effect on July 1, 2012.
Bills Signed Today
HB348 (Miller)/ SB325 (Carrico) - Ensuring Proper and Streamlined Procedures for Virginia's Asset Forfeiture Laws
Streamlines the Commonwealth's asset forfeiture laws by consolidating the forfeiture provisions found throughout the Code of Virginia into one uniform process.
HB1238 (Farrell) and SB558 (Colgan and Obenshain) - Facilitate Asset Forfeiture Monies for the Public Safety Memorial
Allows local law enforcement agencies to direct cash funds and proceeds from forfeited drug assets to the Virginia Public Safety Foundation to support the construction of the Public Safety Memorial.
HB1298 (Albo) and SB685 (Reeves) - Outline Procedure for Obtaining a GPS Tracking Warrant
Provides the authority and the protocol for a law-enforcement officer to petition the court for a search warrant to permit the use of a GPS tracking device.
HB771 (Landes) - Campus Law Enforcement Definition
Defines campus police officers, as appointed by public and private institutions of higher education, within the definition of law-enforcement officer and entitled to certain line-of-duty death benefits.
HB395 (Ransone) and SB441 (Obenshain) - Expedited Line of Duty Benefits
Authorizes the state comptroller to release payments, advanced from the death benefits due to the beneficiary of a deceased person under the Line of Duty Act, to a funeral service provider for burial and transportation costs.
HB42 (Tata) and SB424 (Ruff) - Include National Guard Fire Company in Line of Duty Act
Expands the definition of a deceased person to include members of any fire company or department providing fire protection services for facilities of the Virginia National Guard.
HB941 (Lingamfelter) and SB133 (Stanley) - State Police Arson Investigators Authority
Authorizes State Police arson investigators to obtain administrative warrants to investigate fires. Current law only authorizes local fire marshals to obtain such warrants.
HB391 (Gilbert) and SB476 (Garrett) - Release of Juvenile Behavioral Health Information
Provides for the sharing of juvenile records with state and local correctional facilities when such facility has custody of or is providing supervision for a person convicted as an adult who is the subject of such records.
HB273 (Peace) and SB293 (Lucas) - Establish Minimum Training Standards for Juvenile Correctional Officers
Requires the Departments of Criminal Justice Services and Juvenile Justice to develop compulsory minimum entry-level training standards for juvenile correctional officers.
HB17(Kilgore) - Expedite Filing of Search Warrants
Allows for the electronic filing of search warrant affidavits by means other than the currently authorized electronic facsimile.
HB77 (Habeeb) - Establish Court Process for Sentencing in Bifurcated Trial
Provides that criminal sentencing by a jury shall be done by a different jury when the original jury cannot agree on punishment, unless the parties and the court agree to sentencing by the court.
SB158 (Obenshain) - Strengthen Admission to Bail Process
Provides that a magistrate, clerk, or deputy clerk may not admit to bail a person who is charged with an offense giving rise to a rebuttable presumption against bail unless an attorney for the Commonwealth concurs or the bail previously was set by a judge.