Results from the 2021 Legislative Session

HB1944 Casino gaming; requirements for issuance of operator’s license, human trafficking training – Requires applicants for operator’s licenses to have established a policy requiring all license and permit holders who interact directly with the public in the casino gaming establishment to complete a training course acceptable to the Virginia Lottery Department in how to recognize and report suspected human trafficking in order to be eligible for the issuance of an operator’s license. Approved by Governor on 2/25/2021.

HB2133 Commercial Sex trafficking; issuance of writ of vacatur for victims – Establishes a procedure for victims of sex trafficking to file a petition of vacatur in circuit court to have certain convictions vacated and the police and court records expunged for such convictions. The bill requires the court to grant the writ and vacate a qualifying offense if it finds the petitioner (i) was convicted or adjudicated delinquent of a qualifying offense and (ii) committed the qualifying offense as a direct result of being a victim of sex trafficking, as defined in the bill. As introduced, the bill is a recommendation of the Virginia State Crime Commission. Governor recommendations accepted by House & Senate and House bill with effective date of 7/1/2021.

HB2113 Criminal records; sealing of records, Sealing Fee Fund created, penalties, report (Senate Version SB1339)  – Establishes a process for the automatic sealing of police and court records, defined in the bill, for certain convictions, deferred dispositions, and acquittals and for offenses that have been nolle prossed or otherwise dismissed. The bill also allows a person to petition for the sealing of police and court records relating to certain convictions. Governor recommendations accepted by House and Senate and House bill re-enrolled.

HB2234 Victims of sex trafficking; affirmative defense to prosecution for certain offenses – Provides an affirmative defense to prosecution for prostitution and keeping, residing in, or frequenting a bawdy place if, at the time of the offense leading to such charge, such person was a victim of sex trafficking, as defined in the bill, and (i) was coerced to engage in the offense through the use of force or intimidation or (ii) such offense was committed at the direction of another person other than the individual with whom the person engaged in the acts of prostitution or unlawful sexual intercourse for such money or its equivalent. Governor signed 3/24/2021.

HB1868 Commercial driver’s licenses; disqualification for life from holding license, human trafficking – Disqualifies for life from holding a commercial driver’s license persons convicted of a felony involving an act or practice of severe forms of trafficking in persons while driving a commercial motor vehicle. The bill prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles and every district court or circuit court or the clerk thereof from reducing, dismissing, deferring, or otherwise concealing a conviction of any offense committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle or of any holder of a commercial driver’s license or permit charged with any offense committed while operating a noncommercial motor vehicle and requires the Department and the courts to comply with federal laws and regulations regarding such convictions. Governor signed 3/18/2021 with effective date 7/1/2021.

HB2169 Prostitution; reorganizes the statute penalizing into two distinct sections – Reorganizes the statute penalizing prostitution into two distinct sections. The penalties for all offenses remain unchanged. Governor signed 3/18/2021 and effective date 7/1/2021. More description needed?

SB1468 Victims of crime; certifications for victims of qualifying criminal activity – Establishes a process for a state or local law-enforcement agency, an attorney for the Commonwealth, the Attorney General, or any other agency or department employing law-enforcement officers to complete a certification form or declaration that is required by federal immigration law certifying that a person is a victim of qualifying criminal activity. Governor signed 3/31/2021 and effective date 7/1/2021.

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