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New Law Keeps Violent Felons from Automatic First Offender Status

One of the news laws now in effect aims to keep violent felons from avoiding the full weight of the domestic violence prosecution through first-offender status. 88.9 WCVE’s Saraya Wintersmith reports the Delegate who sponsored the legislation is a freshman.

Virginia Delegate Mike Mullin (D-93) says before becoming a legislator, he noticed a loophole in Virginia law in his work as criminal prosecutor.

Before his bill HB 2064, only people with prior assault and battery convictions for violence against family members were disqualified from being treated as first-time offenders in domestic violence cases. 

“We were having particularly violent felons, very bad people who had been convicted of things like malicious wounding or kid napping, who were taking advantage of a technicality in our criminal justice system and not being convicted of abusing their spouse,” Mullin told 88.9 WCVE in an interview this month.

“I had noticed that for years as a criminal prosecutor, and then when I finally came to the general assembly this year, I started talking with other members of the courts of justice committee and other prosecutors and they had seen the same thing that I had seen,” added Mullin.

Mullin’s bill, which became law earlier this month, now prevents people with any violent convictions from automatically being treated as first-time offenders. You can read more about the bill’s journey to becomig law here.

The new still law allows such felons to seek first-offender status as long as a prosecutor, a defense attorney and judge agree it is appropriate. 

“We don’t want to prevent people from having the discretion that they need to be able to find the best outcomes for a particular family,” Delegate Mullin says. “What I want to make sure of is that everyone is kept safe, that people who abuse their spouse don’t get away with something.”