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"This proposed change in the law would eliminate public access to any closed police records to protect victims of crime."
RICHMOND, VA, April 05, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Recently, proposed changes to Virginia law were announced that may affect access to vital police records.
Attorney Cody Villalon, a Richmond criminal defense attorney, stays abreast of pending legislation and wants to help his clients mount a solid legal defense while gaining access to important police records related to their cases.
Proposed Changes to Virginia Law
For years, police and prosecutors have controlled public access to records that are not filed in court.
Recently, a bill was introduced that would reverse a change in the law made last year. This new legislation would stop public access to police investigative files in closed cases. The bill is sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell, who represents Albemarle.
Public Access to Police Records
After the 2019 mass shooting in Virginia Beach, families of the victims had a difficult time gaining access to police records. It is that event and the subsequent issues of access that spurred the new legislation.
In 2021, the law was changed. The change requires police to provide records to the public in cases where the release of such records would not harm the prosecution.
The law is not designed to give the public unfettered access to police records. The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council ensured that the law contained privacy protections for victims.
For example, police are still prohibited from releasing photos or records that depict or identify victims. In addition, released records cannot disclose confidential informants, along with other privacy provisions.
Revised Law Can Provide Additional Protection for Victims
After being a law for a mere eight months, lawmakers are asking for a change to protect victims and eliminate public access to criminal records.
Richmond criminal defense attorney Cody Villalon explains, "This proposed change in the law would eliminate public access to any closed police records to protect victims of crime."
In the age of social media and online access to information, lawmakers express concern that sensitive information, like photographs of crime victims, could end up on popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.
Proposed changes to the law would help to protect victims and their families by giving access only to immediate family members and attorneys working on post-conviction matters in closed police cases.
About Cody Villalon, Attorney at Law
Attorney Cody Villalon is a criminal defense attorney in Richmond, Virginia. With over a decade of experience and over 5,000 hours in court, attorney Cody Villalon currently represents clients accused of a variety of charges, from driving under the influence, to more serious violent offenses. He is dedicated to serving his community while upholding the United States Constitution.
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