Tougher VA laws in place to aid in public safety - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Tougher VA laws in place to aid in public safety

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

From identity theft to stalking to gang violence, nearly two-dozen tougher laws are in effect right now intended to protect your safety.

A Central Virginia mother who has been fighting for tougher laws since her daughter was shot and killed is speaking out. In that case, the suspect is the victim's ex-boyfriend. He's awaiting trial later this year. Lawmakers say this case is an example of what can go wrong without tougher penalties.

"I don't want any other mother to have to go through what I've been through," said Sheila Green.

Her daughter Tiffany was shot and killed last year at her Henrico apartment complex. The suspect - her ex-boyfriend Alvin Marshall - had been arrested in the past for harassing the 21 year old.

It's why Sheila Green wanted to be there as Governor McDonnell signed 22 new public safety bills into law.

"Too often in Virginia, the biggest threat to someone's personal safety is from someone who claims to love them," said Delegate Jennifer McClellan.

After hearing of too many cases like this, she backed the new bill, which moves stalking from a misdemeanor to a felony in certain cases involving the same victim.

"Of the 22 years I've been doing this, this is the thing that is most noteworthy in terms of courage is people who through their own tears, heartaches and grief are willing to bring changes to the law," McDonnell said.

It's one of several new measures - including laws that now define gang recruitment, hate crimes, and displaying child pornography - as "violent offenses" -  which could lead to tougher penalties at sentencing.

"Maybe the criminals from the past can look back and say it was easier then, now it's an even harder penalty and they will think twice before they what they do," Green said.

McDonnell also recognized the family of De'nora Hill. Police say her boyfriend shot and killed her just before killing himself. Advocates say the new stalking law - among others - is a step in the right direction for keeping us all safe.

The governor also signed into law tougher penalties for identity theft committed over the Internet. If there are 5 or more victims involved, the offender could be convicted of a class 5 felony.

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