Public Comments for: HB627 - Violation of ordinances; schedule of civil penalties.
Supporting Del Hudson's bill as it would allow a locality greater flexibility in enforcing quality of life infractions as civil rather than having to burden law enforcement and prosecutors with enforcement responsibilities.
Please save all of Virginias history, by leaving our monuments intact and historic memorabilia on display. The Commonwealths history should not offend anyone who takes the time to understand it and respect the changes that occurred. For instance Virginias State park history, the Commonwealth’s Roadways or the quaint country town with the history of its namesake and deep rooted genealogy of the people who lived there. The Monuments are no different, they speak of times gone by, appreciated by some, disliked by others. Maybe they are a symbol that change is needed and to remind us to do so, whatever the cause, our history brought us to this day in time. We need to respect each other’s heritage and appreciate how each native Virginian helped to shape all of us. Respectfully, Alan Crawford
Honorable Chair of the Committee: As an attorney for nearly 45 years; as a Prosecutor, Defense Counsel, and Criminal Trial Judge during my 25 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps (Retiring as a Captain); having defended clients at the local, State, Military, and Federal Court levels; and, as a local elected official where I now serve as the Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, I have long been concerned regarding the disproportionality of criminal sanctions for minor conduct or behavior. For the last approximately 20 years, in my private practice of law, I have focused upon representing individuals in Federal Government Security Clearance Adjudications - a process for determining one's eligibility for access to classified information. In that practice I have frequently seen individuals employment and careers derailed as a result of the consequences of criminal convictions for minor infractions. The impact of a criminal conviction cannot be overstated. While there are, of course, instances where one's conduct or behavior warrants criminal prosecution with the consequences which flow from that, we - as a society - have too frequently turned to the most serious process (criminal prosecution) when lesser forms of processes (administrative/civil sanctions) could - and, I respectfully submit - should, first be explored. I write today to support HB627, a Bill to permit localities to create a schedule of civil fines and penalties for minor conduct or behavior which constitutes a violation of designated ordinances. This Bill would permit the establishment of dollar limits on fine amounts and frequency, as well as guidance on separate offenses. The bill would preclude prosecution as a criminal misdemeanor for aggregate penalties of all offenses from the same operative set of facts totaling less than $5,000. Significantly, however, the Bill would then allow prosecution as a criminal misdemeanor for violations arising from the same operative set of facts for penalties totaling $5,000 or more in those instances where the individuals recalcitrance or recidivism warrant. The bill provides for civil summons, waiver of trial, admitting liability, and payment of the penalty. The bill provides trial procedure and abatement of the offense and it creates liens for unpaid penalties, and enforcement guidelines for such liens. The economic and societal benefits of providing greater - not lesser - avenues for addressing minor instances of misconduct should not be overlooked and I urge passage of this bill.