Bills that would help crime victims and raise the dollar threshold for a felony in Virginia appear to be on a fast-track to becoming law.
Governor Ralph Northam says he’s reached a compromise with¬†House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox and Senator Mark Obenshain on several measures. That, Northam says, means the General Assembly will pass, and he will support and sign, a package of five bills: Legislation introduced by Delegate Les Adams (R-Pittsylvania) and Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) to raise the felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500; two bills introduced by Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) and Senator Obenshain (R-Rockingham) to ensure that restitution ordered by the courts is collected from defendants, and two bills to ensure that that after that restitution has been collected it’s finally delivered to crime victims
A Crime Commission study found that there was over $230 million in restitution owed to victims across the Commonwealth, but was unpaid and overdue. More recently, WRIC8 reporter Kerri O‚ÄôBrien found and research confirmed that $8 million in restitution was collected from defendants, but never delivered to the crime victims.
‚ÄúWe were shocked when we learned how much outstanding restitution was owed to crime victims,‚ÄĚ says Delegate Bell, who chairs the¬†House Courts of Justice Committee.¬†‚ÄúThis is money that crime victims need to pay their bills and rebuild their lives. They have to come to court, testify under oath, and many have to describe the most frightening moment of their life to strangers, only to be cross examined and scrutinized in the media. The least we can do is ensure that they receive the restitution that the justice system promises to them.‚ÄĚ
Delegate Joe Lindsay (D-Norfolk) says the current $200 felony threshold is the most severe in the nation.¬†¬†‚ÄúBy raising it,” says Lindsay, “we are sending a clear message that theft is a serious crime, but stealing one phone or pair of boots should not ruin a person‚Äôs life.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThis compromise is a key breakthrough for commonsense criminal justice reform,‚ÄĚ says Governor Northam.¬†