Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 18. Buildings, Monuments and Lands Generally

Article 3. Miscellaneous.

§ 15.2-1812. Memorials for war veterans.

A. A locality may, within the geographical limits of the locality, authorize and permit the erection of monuments or memorials for the veterans of any war or conflict, or any engagement of such war or conflict, to include the following : Algonquin (1622), French and Indian (1754-1763), Revolutionary (1775-1783), War of 1812 (1812-1815), Mexican (1846-1848), Civil War (1861-1865), Spanish-American (1898), World War I (1917-1918), World War II (1941-1945), Korean (1950-1953), Vietnam (1965-1973), Operation Desert Shield-Desert Storm (1990-1991), Global War on Terrorism (2000- ), Operation Enduring Freedom (2001- ), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003- ). Notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, a locality may remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover any such monument or memorial on the locality's public property, not including a monument or memorial located in a publicly owned cemetery, regardless of when the monument or memorial was erected, after complying with the provisions of subsection B.

B. Prior to removing, relocating, contextualizing, or covering any such publicly owned monument or memorial, the local governing body shall publish notice of such intent in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality. The notice shall specify the time and place of a public hearing at which interested persons may present their views, not less than 30 days after publication of the notice. After the completion of the hearing, the governing body may vote whether to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover the monument or memorial. If the governing body votes to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover the monument or memorial, the local governing body shall first, for a period of 30 days, offer the monument or memorial for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield. The local governing body shall have sole authority to determine the final disposition of the monument or memorial.

C. A locality may, prior to initiating the provisions of subsection B, petition the judge of a circuit court having jurisdiction over the locality for an advisory referendum to be held on the question of the proposal to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover any monument or memorial located on the locality's public property. Upon the receipt of such petition, the circuit court shall order an election to be held thereon at a time that is in conformity with § 24.2-682. The ballots shall be prepared, distributed, and voted, and the results of the election shall be ascertained and certified, in the manner prescribed by § 24.2-684.

D. The governing body may appropriate a sufficient sum of money out of its funds to complete or aid in the erection, removal, relocation, contextualizing, or covering of monuments or memorials to the veterans of such wars or conflicts, or any engagement of such wars or conflicts. The governing body may also make a special levy to raise the money necessary for the erection or completion of any such monuments or memorials, or to supplement the funds already raised or that may be raised by private persons, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, or other organizations. It may also appropriate, out of any funds of such locality, a sufficient sum of money to permanently care for, protect, and preserve such monuments or memorials and may expend the same thereafter as other funds are expended.

Code 1950, § 15-696; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-270; 1982, c. 19; 1988, c. 284; 1997, c. 587; 1998, c. 752; 2005, c. 390; 2010, c. 860; 2020, cc. 1100, 1101.

§ 15.2-1812.1. Action for damage to memorials for war veterans.

A. If any monument or memorial for war veterans as designated in § 15.2-1812 is damaged or defaced, an action for the recovery of damages may be commenced as follows:

1. For a publicly owned monument or memorial, such action may be commenced against a person other than a locality or its duly authorized officers, employees, or agents by the attorney for the locality in which it is located with the consent of the governing body or public officer having control of the monument or memorial; and

2. For a privately owned monument or memorial on a locality's public property, such action may be commenced by the private owner of such monument or memorial. No locality or its officers, employees, or agents shall be liable for damages pursuant to this section when taking action pursuant to § 15.2-1812 except for gross negligence by a duly authorized officer, employee, or agent of the locality.

Damages may be awarded in such amounts as necessary for the purposes of rebuilding, repairing, preserving, and restoring such memorials or monuments. Damages other than those litigation costs recovered from any such action shall be used exclusively for said purposes.

B. Punitive damages may be recovered for reckless, willful, or wanton conduct resulting in the defacement of, malicious destruction of, unlawful removal of, or placement of improper markings, monuments, or statues on memorials for war veterans.

C. The party who initiates and prevails in an action authorized by this section shall be entitled to an award of the cost of the litigation, including reasonable attorney fees. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit the rights of any person, organization, society, or museum to pursue any additional civil remedy otherwise allowed by law.

2000, c. 812; 2020, cc. 1100, 1101.

§ 15.2-1812.2. Willful and malicious damage to or defacement of public or private facilities; penalty.

A. Any locality may by ordinance make unlawful the willful and malicious damage to or defacement of any public buildings, facilities and personal property or of any private buildings, facilities and personal property. The penalty for violation of such ordinance is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment for any such violation in which the defacement is (i) more than 20 feet off the ground, (ii) on a railroad or highway overpass, or (iii) committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, as that term is defined by § 18.2-46.1, shall include a mandatory minimum fine of $500.

B. Upon a finding of guilt under any such ordinance in any case tried before the court without a jury, in the event the violation constitutes a first offense that results in property damage or loss, the court, without entering a judgment of guilt, upon motion of the defendant, may defer further proceedings and place the defendant on probation pending completion of a plan of community service work. If the defendant fails or refuses to complete the community service as ordered by the court, the court may make final disposition of the case and proceed as otherwise provided. If the community service work is completed as the court prescribes, the court may discharge the defendant and dismiss the proceedings against him. Discharge and dismissal under this section shall be without adjudication of guilt and is a conviction only for the purposes of applying the ordinance in subsequent proceedings.

C. The ordinance shall direct that the community service, to the extent feasible, include the repair, restoration or replacement of any damage or defacement to property within the locality, and may include clean-up, beautification, landscaping or other appropriate community service within the locality. Any ordinance adopted pursuant to this section shall make provision for a designee of the locality to supervise the performance of any community service work required and to report thereon to the court imposing such requirement. At or before the time of sentencing under the ordinance, the court shall receive and consider any plan for making restitution or performing community service submitted by the defendant. The court shall also receive and consider the recommendations of the supervisor of community service in the locality concerning the plan.

D. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person convicted of a violation of an ordinance adopted pursuant to this section shall be placed on probation or have his sentence suspended unless such person makes at least partial restitution for such property damage or is compelled to perform community services, or both, as is more particularly set forth in § 19.2-305.1.

E. If a locality seeks to clean or cover the defacement, it shall give notice to the owner and lessee, if any, of any private building or facility that has been defaced that, within 15 days of receipt of such notice, if the owner or lessee does not clean or cover the defacement or object to the removal of the defacement, the locality may clean or cover the defacement at the locality's expense.

1995, c. 251, § 18.2-138.1; 1997, cc. 445, 461; 2004, c. 462; 2005, c. 614.

§ 15.2-1813. Notice when public hearing required.

Any public hearing required by this chapter shall be advertised once in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality at least seven days prior to the date set for the hearing.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1814. Acquisition authorized by chapter declared to be for public use.

Any acquisition of property authorized by any provision of this chapter is hereby declared to be for a public use as the term "public uses" is used in § 1-219.1.

1997, c. 587; 2007, cc. 882, 901, 926.