New Laws

New Laws Take Effect In Virginia


This past legislative session has seen a number of changes to many of the laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia across a wide variety of topics, including elections laws, human rights, healthcare, workers’ rights, education, environment, transportation, and criminal justice.

Here is a list of some criminal laws that take effect TODAY that may impact you:

  • Lost/stolen firearms must be reported to law enforcement within 48 hours.
  • The crime of fornication (voluntary sexual intercourse by an unmarried person) is repealed - yes, this was a crime in Virginia!
  • Community service work can be done to pay off court fines and costs.
  • A public defender’s office is now being established in Prince William County - the Prince William County Bar Association president, Tracey Lenox, has been selected by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission as the Chief Public Defender. Hiring is underway and the hopes that the new PD’s office can begin taking cases by the end of the summer.
  • Bans smoking in a car with a passenger 15 or under.
  • Firearms may be removed from persons who pose a substantial risk to themselves or the public.
  • Parents must be notified before a police officer can interrogate a child who has been arrested for a criminal violation. Yes, this is new! Until today, law enforcement was not required to notify the parents and it was common practice not to do so.
  • Handgun purchases are now limited to one handgun per month.
  • Reckless driving by speed has increased from 80 to 85 mph in a 65 mph zone.
  • Driver’s license can no longer be suspended for certain non-driving related offenses such as when a person is convicted or placed on deferred disposition for a drug offense, non-payment of fines and costs, or for shoplifting motor fuel.
  • Sale of hemp products to persons under 21 is no longer permitted
  • Simple possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense in Virginia. Click here for more information on the decriminalization of marijuana.
  • The grand larceny threshold was increased from $500 to $1,000.
  • Persons subject to a final protective order must relinquish all firearms in their possession within 24 hours.
  • The crime of profane swearing in public is repealed. Yes, this was illegal too!
  • The penalty for allowing minors to access firearms has increased from a misdemeanor violation to a felony.
  • Asset forfeiture requires a conviction —> any action for the forfeiture of property used in connection with the commission of a crime must be stayed until the person whose property is the subject of the forfeiture action has been found guilty of the crime authorizing the forfeiture.
  • The outdoor tethering of animals is not permitted when the outdoor temperature is over 85 degrees or under 32 degrees if the animal does not have adequate shelter.
  • The age limit for possession of tobacco products increased from 18 to 21 years old.
  • All firearm sales are now subject to background checks.
  • Penalties for distracted driving that causes injury to pedestrian or cyclist have increased.