Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 9.1. Commonwealth Public Safety
Chapter 15. Certifications for Victims of Qualifying Criminal Activity
10/18/2021

§ 9.1-1502. Proceedings for Enforcement of Chapter.

A. A certifying agency or certifying official acting or failing to act in good faith in compliance with this chapter shall have immunity from civil or criminal liability that may otherwise occur as a result of so acting or failing to act, except for gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

B. If a certifying agency fails to respond within the statutory timeframes or refuses to certify that an applicant was a victim of qualifying criminal activity, the applicant may petition a circuit court to review the determination of the certifying agency within 30 days of such determination or within 30 days of the expiration of the statutory timeframe in subsection D. The circuit court shall conduct an evidentiary hearing on such petition within 30 days of the filing of the petition. Upon conducting a hearing and the circuit court being satisfied that the applicant having proven their eligibility for completion of a certification form by a preponderance of the evidence and the circuit court having found that the certifying agency's refusal to sign was unreasonable, a circuit court judge may execute the certification form. In assessing the reasonableness of the certifying agency's decision or failure to respond, the circuit court may consider whether the applicant has complied with the terms of this section and whether circumstances exist that would justify a deferral of a decision including whether a certification would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution or the safety of an individual, cause a suspect to flee or evade detection, result in the destruction of evidence, or the applicant's cooperation is not complete.

Upon finding that the certifying agency denied the application without a factual or legal justification, or failed to respond to the applicant, the circuit court shall make an award of reasonable costs and attorney fees to a prevailing applicant. Such determination shall be without prejudice to any future proceeding premised upon a material change in circumstances.

C. Any petition filed pursuant to subsection B, along with the record of all hearings and all other pleadings and papers filed, and orders entered in connection with such petition shall be kept under seal by the clerk unless otherwise ordered by the court.

D. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to alter or diminish the duties and requirements of a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, the attorney for the Commonwealth, or the Attorney General from disclosing exculpatory information to a defendant in a criminal case.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 468.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.