A bill that is now under review by Governor McDonnell strengthens current state laws on stalking —although its sponsor says the law still needs to be even tougher. Delegate Jennifer McClellan hopes her bill will encourage law enforcement to take reports of stalking and domestic abuse more seriously.
It would become a felony if someone convicted twice of stalking had also been convicted of committing violent acts against the same victim within five years. It would also apply if the aggressor had violated a protective order within that period.
Currently, stalking is a felony after three offenses. This first hit home for McClellan when a University of Richmond student, De’Nora Hill, applied for a permanent protective order against her ex-boyfriend in 2005. She was not able to get it before he shot her to death. McClellan promised to submit the bill until it passed, which didn't happen until this year. She says it’s disappointing that it took so long:
"You know, the sad thing is after De'Nora then we had Yeardley Love. That wasn't enough, and then this past year, Tiffany Green. Tiffany's mother is a constituent and it just sort of reinforced why it was important. And to be honest it's not quite done. I think we should still keep working to make it a felony after the second offense," said McClellan.
McClellan says the costs related to enforcement prevented this from passing before now. She worked with state leaders to cut that cost in half by targeting only the worst offenders.