Crime in the Digital Age
Mon March 17, 2014
Public Safety Legislation
Over the last several weeks, Governor McAuliffe has had the daunting task of reviewing 834 bills that were passed and sent to him by the General Assembly.
One stack of legislation on his desk addresses public safety concerns, including creating a new crime for a vindictive act that’s peculiar to the digital age: “revenge porn.”
The bill makes it illegal to maliciously disseminate or sell nude images with the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate the depicted person. It’s punishable by a fine and up to a year in jail. Bill sponsor Delegate Rob Bell says lawmakers hope to deter the misuse of technology and the resulting damage. “The difference compared to the olden days is, of course, the Internet. With the Internet, once you put a nude image up, that image is worldwide and it’s forever. And so the thought would be: If you ever want to stop it, you can’t go back and get it once it’s been posted. You’ve got to make it stop before it happens.”
A second bill sponsored by Bell helps victims covered by protective orders when the judge assigns them use of the family car. “The person who’s paying the insurance can just cut it off—or the person who’s paying various costs can just cut them off. This will say that the protective order can cover that—to just say that while we’re sorting all this out, you can’t be cutting off the car payments and thereby using it as leverage.”
A separate bill would enable victims to have the family pet to prevent its being harmed. Still another public safety bill targets human trafficking and makes it a Class 4 felony to engage in pandering that involves a minor.
House Bill 49