Implementation of Virginia Crime Codes in Criminal Justice

Implementation of Virginia Crime Codes in Criminal Justice

Implementation of Virginia Crime Codes in Criminal Justice Data Systems Recording offense information in standardized way is important The manner in which offense information is recorded on criminal justice databases has important implications for those who rely on such data to make both individual and system-wide decisions. Recording offense information in a uniform fashion can greatly improve the efficiency and the quality of criminal justice decisionmaking. 2 Code of Virginia statute is insufficient to identify offenses Because the Code of Virginia defines many distinct criminal acts within a single statute, the statute number is an inadequate method to identify the specific offense committed or its statutory seriousness.

The inclusion of a narrative offense description usually does not provide enough additional information to match the crime to its specific statutory penalty. In the past, offense descriptions have not been standardized across criminal justice data systems, or even within a single agencys data system, and often have lacked the elements of the crime needed to make distinctions between discrete offenses. The Virginia Crime Code (VCC) system is designed for exactly this purpose. 3 Virginia Crime Codes (VCCs) were developed in the mid-1980s The VCC system is set of standardized offense codes that identify each unique crime in the Code of Virginia. When entered into a database, the statutory reference can be

generated, as well as a narrative offense description containing the critical elements of the offense. The VCC system was established in the mid-1980s and, since 1995, has been maintained and updated by the Commission. 4 Virginia Crime Codes (VCCs) are user friendly Examples: MUR-0925-F2 First-degree murder NAR-3022-F5 Possession of a Schedule I/II Drug LAR-2359-F9

Larceny $200 or more (not from person) In the VCC system, the last two characters represent the seriousness, or penalty class, of the offense. A seriousness index of F5 means the crime is defined in the Code as a Class 5 felony, while an F9 indicates that the crime is an unclassed felony. When using the VCCs, the F in the seriousness index is changed to an A for an attempted felony and to a C for a conspired felony. For most crimes, the Code prescribes lower penalties for attempted and conspired felonies than for completed felonies MUR-0925-A2 Attempted first-degree murder 5 House Bill 308 (2002 General Assembly) As Introduced HOUSE BILL NO. 308 Offered January 9, 2002 Prefiled January 7, 2002 A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 19.2-390.01,

relating to criminal justice record information; codes required. ---------Patrons-- McDonnell; Senator: Stolle ---------Referred to Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety ---------Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia: 1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 19.2-390.01 as follows: 19.2-390.01. Use of Virginia crime code references required. On and after January 1, 2003, all reports to the Central Criminal Records Exchange and to any other criminal offense or offender database maintained by the State Police, the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Virginia Parole Board, and the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall include the Virginia crime code references for the particular offense or offenses covered. The Virginia crime code references shall be maintained and administered by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. House Bill 308 (2002 General Assembly) Final CHAPTER 524 An Act to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 19.2-390.01, relating to criminal justice record information; codes required. [H 308] Approved April 5, 2002 Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia: 1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 19.2-390.01 as follows: 19.2-390.01. Use of Virginia crime code references required. All charging documents issued by magistrates, and all criminal warrants, criminal indictments, informations and presentments, criminal petitions, misdemeanor summonses, and the dispositional documents from criminal trials shall include

the Virginia crime code references for the particular offense or offenses covered. All reports to the Central Criminal Records Exchange and to any other criminal offense or offender database maintained by the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Virginia Parole Board, and the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall include the Virginia crime code references for the particular offense or offenses covered. The Virginia crime code references shall be maintained and administered by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. (continued) House Bill 308 (2002 General Assembly) Final (continued) 2. That the agency heads or their designees of the Departments of Criminal Justice Services, State Police, Juvenile Justice, Corrections, and of the Compensation Board, Criminal Sentencing Commission, the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Sheriffs' Association, and the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Virginia Supreme Court, shall meet, identify the necessary steps and submit a written plan for accomplishing the requirements of this act to the Virginia State Crime Commission by December 1, 2002. The Virginia State Crime Commission shall coordinate the activities of this group. 3. That 19.2-390.01 of this act shall not become effective unless reenacted by the 2003 Session of the General Assembly. Vote on HB308 (substitute): House 93-Y 0-N / Senate 38-Y 0-N House Bill 2541 (2003 General Assembly) As Introduced

HOUSE BILL NO. 2541 Offered January 8, 2003 Prefiled January 8, 2003 A BILL to amend and reenact 19.2-226 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 19.2-390.01, relating to criminal justice record information and crime code references. ---------Patrons-- McDonnell, Albo, Kilgore and Moran; Senators: Howell, Norment and Stolle ---------Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice ---------Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia: 1. That 19.2-226 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted, and that the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 19.2-390.01, as follows: 19.2-226. What defects in indictments not to vitiate them. No indictment or other accusation shall be quashed or deemed invalid: (10) For omitting or stating incorrectly the Virginia crime code references for the particular offense or offenses covered. (continued) House Bill 2541 (2003 General Assembly) As Introduced (continued) 19.2-390.01. Use of Virginia crime code references required. All charging documents issued by magistrates, and all criminal warrants, criminal indictments, informations and presentments, criminal petitions, summonses for jailable misdemeanors, and the dispositional documents from criminal trials shall include the Virginia crime code references for the particular offense or offenses covered. All reports to the Central Criminal

Records Exchange and to any other criminal offense or offender database maintained by the State Police, the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Virginia Parole Board, and the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall include the Virginia crime code references for the particular offense or offenses covered. The Virginia crime code references shall be maintained and administered by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. 2. That this act shall become effective on October 1, 2004. 10 House Bill 2541 (2003 General Assembly) Final CHAPTER 148 An Act to amend and reenact 19.2-226 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 19.2-390.01, relating to criminal justice record information and crime code references. [H 2541] Approved March 16, 2003 Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia: 19.2-390.01. Use of Virginia crime code references required. If any criminal warrant, indictment, information, presentment, petition, summons, charging document issued by a magistrate, or dispositional document from a criminal trial, involves a jailable offense, it shall include the Virginia crime code references for the particular offense or offenses covered. When Virginia crime codes are provided on charging and dispositional documents, the Virginia crime codes shall be recorded and stored for adult offenders in: criminal history computer systems maintained by the State Police; court case management computer systems maintained by the

Supreme Court of Virginia; probation and parole case management computer systems maintained by the Department of Corrections and the Virginia Parole Board; pretrial and community corrections case management computer systems maintained by the Department of Criminal Justice Services; and jail management computer systems maintained by the State Compensation Board. The Department of Juvenile Justice shall record and store Virginia crime codes for particular offenses related to juveniles in case management computer systems. (continued) House Bill 2541 (2003 General Assembly) Final (continued) Virginia crime codes shall only be used to facilitate administration and research, and shall not have any legal standing as they relate to a particular offense or offenses. 2. That this act shall become effective on October 1, 2004. 3. That the charging and dispositional documents incorporating Virginia crime codes developed pursuant to this act shall indicate clearly that the crime codes are to be entered in a portion of such documents labeled "for administrative use only" or words to that effect. Vote on HB2541 (substitute): House 100-Y 0-N / Senate 37-Y 0-N Many agencies were using VCCs prior to 2003 legislation

Sentencing Commission Department of Corrections Probation & Parole Department Juvenile Justice Compensation Board All local and regional jails Department of Criminal Justice Services Local Pre-trial Services and Community-based Corrections programs 13 Compensation Boards website has VCC look-up feature http://www.scb.virginia.gov/LIDSinformation/vccsearch.cfm

14 Other agencies have begun using VCCs since 2003 legislation Supreme Court - automated magistrate information system (implemented statewide in 2005) E-magistrate system stores VCCs in the database and prints VCCs on court documents but does not display VCCs on screen 15 Implementation of VCC system was folded into DCJS program Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) leads the Integrated Justice Program (IJP). IJP is a collection of coordinated projects to improve criminal justice processing and sharing of information. Eliminate duplicate data entry

Promote timely sharing of critical data Reduce errors First major IJP project was the Charge Standardization Project. Cooperative effort between DCJS, State Police, Supreme Court and the states Compensation Board Funded by federal earmark to DCJS Implementation of VCC system was incorporated into the existing project Sentencing Commission was invited to participate in the early stages 16 DCJS Charge Standardization Project (2002-2006) Charge Standardization Project involved: Development of offense tracking numbers (OTNs) to improve case tracking Development of 2-dimensional bar codes to access offender records and eliminate redundant data entry Improvements in data sharing among criminal justice

agencies Application of data standards to improve consistency across data systems Implementation of a Uniform Statute Table (UST) Largely based on VCCs, with some differences 17 Differences between VCC System and UST Uniform Statute Table (UST) is largely based on VCCs. Differences between VCC and UST appear mostly related to specific agency requests. For example, court clerks wanted to differentiate principals in the 2nd degree and accessories before the fact from principals in the 1st degree. Except for certain capital offenses, the VCC system does not distinguish principals in the 2nd degree and accessories before the fact from principals in the 1st degree, because the punishment prescribed in the Code is the same for all. Clerks also wanted to capture the specific crime involved in solicitation cases under 18.2-29 (solicitation to commit a felony) Soliciting an adult to commit any felony (other than murder) is

always a Class 6 felony, while soliciting a juvenile to commit a felony (other than murder) is always a Class 5 felony; therefore the VCC system uses only two codes to identify solicitation crimes. 18 Differences between VCC System and UST Some agencies wanted to distinguish attempted misdemeanors from completed acts. Because the Code prescribes the same penalty for attempted and completed misdemeanors, the VCC system does not differentiate them. As a result of agency requests, there are additional entries in the UST that provide further offense specificity for principals, accessories, felony solicitation, and attempted misdemeanors. Data systems in some agencies, such as State Police, cannot accommodate the full length of the VCC offense description and these agencies requested shorter descriptors for offenses.

As a result of system limitations at certain agencies, offense descriptions in the UST differ from the VCC system. 19 Design of UST is cumbersome For each unique offense (VCC), the UST has separate entries for completed, attempted and conspired versions of the crime. The UST also includes four additional entries for each felony VCC to identify principals in the 2nd degree, accessories before the fact, solicitation of an adult, and solicitation of a juvenile. When a user accesses the UST, he is given an offense list that includes all seven versions for each felony crime (more for some offenses). As a result, the user is often faced with a lengthy list of offenses

from which to choose the correct offense. For example, while there are only 14 burglary VCCs, the UST has 98 versions of burglary offenses. 20 Example of UST Burglary 18.2-89 Statute Additional Statute Reference Modifier 18.2-89 Type Penalty Class Description VCC Completed Felony 3

BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY BUR-2221-F3 18.2-89 18.2-26 Attempt Felony 5 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY BUR-2221-A3 18.2-89 18.2-22 Conspiracy Felony 5

BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY BUR-2221-C3 18.2-89 18.2-18 Accessory before fact Felony 3 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY BUR-2221-F3 18.2-89 18.2-18 Principal in 2nd degree Felony 3

BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY BUR-2221-F3 18.2-89 18.2-29 Solicitation of adult Felony 6 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY SOL-7200-F6 18.2-89 18.2-29 Solicitation of juvenile Felony 5

BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY SOL-7201-F5 Completed Felony 2 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY, ARMED BUR-2222-F2 18.2-89 18.2-89 18.2-26 Attempt Felony 4 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY, ARMED BUR-2222-A2

18.2-89 18.2-22 Conspiracy Felony 5 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY, ARMED BUR-2222-C2 18.2-89 18.2-18 Accessory before fact Felony 2 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY, ARMED BUR-2222-F2

18.2-89 18.2-18 Principal in 2nd degree Felony 2 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY, ARMED BUR-2222-F2 18.2-89 18.2-29 Solicitation of adult Felony 6 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY, ARMED SOL-7200-F6

18.2-89 18.2-29 Solicitation of juvenile Felony 5 BURGLARY: AT NIGHT, TO COMMIT FELONY, ARMED SOL-7201-F5 Several agencies are (or will be) using UST State Police Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Supreme Court (excluding the magistrate system)

Department of Corrections DOC will be using the UST for its new central data system, called Virginia CORIS, beginning in 2007. 22 Utilization of VCC/UST is not universal in all data bases Not all arrests in the State Police central criminal records exchange (CCRE) specify a VCC for the crime at arrest. A portion of arrest records reference only the Code section. Law enforcement agencies that do not have Livescan equipment continue to submit arrest data to State Police on paper fingerprint cards, which require only a statute number. There is no space or box on paper fingerprint cards for the VCC. Source: Integrated Justice Project (IJP) Committee Meeting (May 10, 2007) 23

Utilization of VCC/UST is not universal in all data bases For charges initiated by the court directly, without involvement of a magistrate, the clerk is not likely to enter the VCC into the Supreme Courts Case Management System (CMS). Cases include direct indictments, reinstatements, and capias orders Clerks have been told not to enter the VCC unless it is provided by the judge or it appears on court documents. For charges that are amended in court, the clerk will continue to enter the VCC for the charged offense unless given the correct VCC by the judge or on court documents. Most law enforcement officers are not putting VCCs on summonses issued for misdemeanor offenses. Source: Integrated Justice Project (IJP) Committee Meeting (May 10, 2007) 24

Future direction Commission staff would like to examine State Police and Supreme Court data in order to assess the degree to which VCCs are missing, particularly in felony cases. Commission staff have been invited to participate in the fall regional conferences for district and circuit court clerks. 25

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