Virginia

(information last updated Fall 2017)

Ongoing Projects:

State Projects:

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has been tasked with creating a citizen water quality monitoring program and with providing grants to volunteer citizen science groups.  See Va. Code Ann. § 62.1-44.19:5.

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  Notice against trespass must be given by signage.  Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-119.

Other Provisions:

It is a misdemeanor to shine a light on agricultural property.  See Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-121.2.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“Any person, except a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, and acting in the performance of his official duties, and a registered private investigator, as defined in § 9.1-138, who is regulated in accordance with § 9.1-139 and acting in the course of his legitimate business, who on more than one occasion engages in conduct directed at another person with the intent to place, or when he knows or reasonably should know that the conduct places that other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that other person or to that other person’s family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.  If the person contacts or follows or attempts to contact or follow the person at whom the conduct is directed after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed, such actions shall be prima facie evidence that the person intended to place that other person, or reasonably should have known that the other person was placed, in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to himself or a family or household member.”  Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-60.3. 

Civil Law:

“A victim has a civil cause of action against an individual who engaged in conduct that is prohibited under § 18.2-60.3, whether or not the individual has been charged or convicted for the alleged violation, for the compensatory damages incurred by the victim as a result of that conduct, in addition to the costs for bringing the action.  If compensatory damages are awarded, a victim may also be awarded punitive damages.”  Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-42.3.

Drone Laws:

“No locality may regulate the use of a privately owned, unmanned aircraft system as defined in § 19.2-60.1 within its boundaries.”  Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-926.3.

 

Governor McAuliffe established a commission in 2015 to track Unmanned Aircraft System technology and provide recommendations to the legislature for further regulations.  Va. Exec. Order No. 43 (2015), available at https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=8593.

 

 

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions address the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:

“The Department of Environmental Quality shall establish a citizen water quality monitoring program to provide technical assistance and may provide grants[1] to support citizen water quality monitoring groups if (i) the monitoring is done pursuant to a memorandum of agreement with the Department, (ii) the project or activity is consistent with the Department of Environmental Quality’s water quality monitoring program, (iii) the monitoring is conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia Citizens Monitoring Methods Manual, and (iv) the location of the water quality monitoring activity is part of the water quality control plan required under [a separate provision].”  Va. Code Ann. § 62.1-44.19:5.  However, “[t]he results of such citizen monitoring shall not be used in any enforcement action.”  Id.

Explicitly Prohibits:

Select information shall not be used in enforcement actions.  See supra “Explicitly Allows.”

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that the claim “is well grounded in fact.”  Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-271.1.

Authentication or Chain of Custody

“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the thing in question is what its proponent claims.”  Va. Sup. Ct. R. 2:901.

Expert Testimony:

Other/Statute though Daubert is instructive.  See Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-401; John v. Im, 559 S.E.2d 694, 696-97 (2002).

[1] In summer 2016, the VA DEQ issued a Request for Proposals for grants under this program.  See 2017 Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Program Grant RFP, Va. DEQ, July 17, 2016, http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Water/WaterQualityMonitoring/CitizenMonitoring/2017_CMG_RFP.pdf.  Grants range from $1,000 - $10,000.

Discussion

Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.