CRIMINAL JUSTICE + POLICING

A felony charge brought against a young Richmond woman who wore a mask near the heavily attended pro-gun rally at the Capitol has been dismissed, according to the woman's lawyer.Mikaela Beschler had been charged with violating the state's anti-mask law after police said she failed to heed warnings to...
Virginia Democrats have made no secret that they planned to use their new majorities to decriminalize marijuana this year. (To the extent that there’s been a debate, it’s been focused on whether the state should skip straight to outright legalization.)Less certain was how many members of the GOP, whose...
A Senate panel voted this week to delay consideration of a bill abolishing the death penalty until next year. In the House, similar legislation never got a vote because a late fiscal impact estimate put a $72,630 price tag on the proposal.That cost analysis, prepared by the Virginia Criminal...
When is a drunken-driving arrest not really a drunken-driving arrest?When a Virginia legislator is behind the wheel — and the General Assembly happens to be in session. Del. Chris Hurst, D-Montgomery, knows all about it. A traffic stop involving the delegate has shed some light on a little-known section in...
The General Assembly shut down proposals to legalize marijuana for the year, but lawmakers said this week they would study the issue and potentially move forward when they reconvene in 2021.Both the House and the Senate are instead advancing decriminalization bills that would punish possession of a half-ounce or...
As the Virginia General Assembly voted in favor of bills to establish a red flag law, Republicans in both chambers denounced the proposal as unconstitutional.On the Senate floor last month, Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, said that in a rush to "dissolve the Second Amendment," Democrats are "willing to sacrifice"...
A bill to toughen Virginia's law against letting minors access loaded guns failed in a Senate committee Monday morning as two Democrats joined Republicans in blocking it.Under current law, it's a misdemeanor offense to "recklessly" leave a loaded, unsecured gun accessible to a child under 14. As drafted, Senate...
If police pull you over in Virginia and say they smell marijuana, they have probable cause to search your car without a warrant.Some state senators, skeptical of what they view as an improbably high number of searches justified under such pretenses, want to make sure the practice ends under...
It was a big day for Virginians prone to bouts of cussing and spitting.A House of Delegates committee advanced legislation repealing the crimes of swearing and “expectorating” in public to a vote before the full chamber.Both are currently Class 4 misdemeanors punishable by a fine of not more than...
It was an offhand question, for sure. But during an early morning briefing by the Virginia Department of Corrections, Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, recalled eating the food served to inmates at Red Onion State Prison during a site visit to the Southwestern Virginia supermax facility several years ago.How much,...