General Assembly May Consider Expanding Attorney General's Jurisdiction for Hate Crimes

Dec 4, 2018

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring
Credit AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta

Virginia’s attorney general is hoping members of the General Assembly will give his office new authority to go after hate crimes.

Sometimes hate crimes don’t respect boundaries between cities and counties. That’s why Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring wants the General Assembly to give his office new authority to prosecute hate crimes that would otherwise be the jurisdiction of local commonwealth’s attorneys.

“We’re not trying to take their authority away from them. But, in certain instances, it might send a real strong message communities who are impacted by hate crimes if someone with a statewide portfolio takes the lead in a case.”

Read More: Herring Hears Tales of Hate Crimes, Proposes Legislative Action

Delegate Mike Mullin of Newport News says the AG’s office would only get involved if the local prosecutor asks for assistance. And it would add hate crimes to a long list of other multi-jurisdictional investigations — murder, arson, malicious wounding and drug crimes.

“The attorney general’s office is very good at being able to handle complex litigation that sometimes local commonwealth’s attorneys are over strapped or understaffed to be able to handle.”

The legislation is expected to be introduced by state Senator Barbara Favola, a Democrat from Arlington, and Delegate Lamont Bagby, a Democrat from Richmond.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.