New Virginia laws will go into effect on July 1, including some that will change punishments for certain criminal offenses, Attorney Anastasia Kranias explains.

On July 1, many new laws will go into effect based on the most recent legislative session in Virginia.  The Virginia General Assembly consists of the Senate of Virginia and the House of Delegates.  Each year, these bodies make and change the laws of the Commonwealth, for better or worse.  A few highlights for you to ponder:

New Laws Regarding Adultery

The bad news for those of you actively engaging in adultery in the Commonwealth of Virginia is that the proposed bill to reduce the penalty for adultery from a misdemeanor to a civil penalty did not pass.  Therefore, adultery is still a criminal act.  So stop it.

New Virginia Criminal Laws Regarding Marijuana Use 

The bad news for those of you who like to engage in recreational activities, such as smoking marijuana, is that the bill proposed to decriminalize simple marijuana possession also did not pass.  Lucky for you though, the Commonwealth graciously allows a first time offender program which will allow for a first time possession charge to eventually be dismissed after your license has been suspended for six months, you’ve completed 24 hours of community service, and you have remained drug and alcohol free for a period of up to one year.

Don’t be fooled though – the charge will remain on your record forever and ever, and the program can only be used one time.  This is exciting news for those reviewing your application to the FBI one day. The bottom line is: possessing and smoking pot remains illegal in Virginia!

However, the good news is that, with HB1445, if you have epilepsy, and possess cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil pursuant to a valid written prescription issued by a doctor for purposes of treating or alleviating your seizures, you will have an affirmative defense in your prosecution for possession of marijuana.

In other words, you are still illegally possessing marijuana, but you can show your prescription to the prosecutor and your charge should be dropped.  You should then follow up with the legal process known as an expungement, which could take months and hundreds of dollars, to have your record cleared.  In other words, marijuana is still illegal and the Commonwealth does not condone its use. The broad medical marijuana exception in several other states are NOT applicable in Virginia.

New Virginia Laws Regarding Soliciting a Minor

The really good news is that, due to HB1964, it will now be a felony for an adult to solicit a minor for prostitution.  To answer your question, no, it currently is not a felony to solicit young children from playgrounds with the intent to profit from them engaging in prostitution.  In fact, the courts would currently impose a harsher penalty on those who steal $200.01 worth of merchandise to feed and clothe their deprived children (Grand Larceny).  Rest assured though, the solicitor of child sex trafficking will be punished severely beginning in July.

In all seriousness, many additional bills were passed to become new laws in order to protect the people of the Commonwealth.  One thing that has become increasingly evident to me as an attorney, is that there is always a story behind a criminal charge.  Regardless of what my personal opinion is on different criminal behavior, everybody deserves an ear to listen and someone to fight.  Feel free to check out the rest of the legislative updates and new laws to see how they may or may not affect your life!

Anastasia T. Kranias
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