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Cell phone ringtones could dial-up fines, jail time

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Posted at 1:39 PM, Jan 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-01-18 11:33:13-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A bill sponsored by Delegate Bob Tata, R-Virginia Beach, would upgrade using a cell phone ring with ‘the intent to annoy’ from a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 fine to a Class 2 misdemeanor which would carry up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Delegate Tata said he sponsored the bill because the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Virginia Beach asked him to, after a local man repeatedly harassed two women by incessantly calling their cell phones.

According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Harvey Bryant, the man had his number blocked by the two women, so he proceeded to call them from businesses, homes and other locations.

Tata thinks the law makes sense and when asked if possible jail time is justified, he responded, “there are a number of cases around where people are annoying a lot of other people, and it doesn’t stop.”
“They just pay the fine and start all over again,” he added.

Sam Brock spoke by phone with Harvey Bryant on Tuesday afternoon.

He said the bill wouldn’t necessarily carry jail time, but it would be in the judge’s discretion whether or not to enforce it.

“The fact that the judge could use jail time doesn’t mean each person is going to jail,” Bryant said. “It just gives him that tool.”

Bryant also explained that a magistrate would have to grant a warrant, and anyone who wants to see charges filed would have to demonstrate some proof of harassment.

“We’ll see where it goes, it may go nowhere,” said Tata. “Who knows, every day at [the General Assembly] is a surprise!”

The below info was pulled directly from the Virginia General Assembly Legislation Information System which can be accessed at http://leg1.state.va.us/ .

  • HB 115 Smoking in cars with a minor present; civil penalty.
  • HB 116 Higher educational institutions; clarifies policies & procedures for violence prevention on campus. Public institutions of higher education; violence prevention.  Clarifies that policies and procedures for the prevention of violence on campus, including assessment and intervention with individuals whose behavior poses a threat to the safety of the campus community, shall be developed both by four-year and two-year public institutions of higher education.
  • HB 124 Plastic bags; imposes a tax of 20 cents on those used by purchasers.
  • HB 138 Public schools; impact of unlawful aliens, report. Public schools; impact of unlawful aliens; report.  Requires public schools to determine whether each student enrolling in public school was born outside the jurisdiction of the United States or is the child of an alien not lawfully present in the United States and qualifies for assignment to an English as a Second Language class or other remedial program. The Board of Education must prepare a report on the impacts of such students in public schools and request reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Education for the fiscal costs to the state and political subdivisions thereof of providing educational instruction, computers, textbooks and other supplies, free or discounted school meals, and extracurricular activities to students who are aliens not lawfully present in the United States.
  • HB 142 Smoking; allows localities to ban in designated public parks.
  • HJ 13 Ignition interlock; State Crime Commission to study installation for DUI first offender, etc.
  • HJ 19 Organ, eye, and tissue donation; options for establishing opt-out program in State, report.
  • SB 4 Castle doctrine; self-defense and defense of others. Castle doctrine; self-defense and defense of others. Codifies a version of the "castle doctrine," allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person in the dwelling, without civil liability.
  • SB 16 Children; raises age for indecent liberties to under age of 16 years, penalty.

Here’s the link if you want to look for yourself, or read more about the proposed legislation above: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?121+lst+ALL