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WAMU 88.5: Long Arm Of The Law Is About To Get Longer In Virginia Print

By Michael Pope

Created:  Monday, March 21, 2011 4:14AM

Prosecutors in Virginia may soon have the ability to try defendants for crimes that took place outside of their jurisdictions. The measure would apply to violent felonies associated with sexual assault.

Last February, a man named Jorge Torres abducted and raped a woman in Arlington, then drove her to Prince William County and tried to kill her. She survived, and Torres was given five life sentences. But Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Trodden says there's more to the story.

"After the trial was over, I got a call from a juror who said, 'Hey, how come you didn't try him for trying to kill her.' And I had to explain that we didn't have a venue," he says.

The reason is that prosecutors don't have the authority to bring charges for crimes that took place outside of their jurisdictions. So Trodden asked Del. Patrick Hope to introduce legislation. Del. David Albo is the chairman of the committee that considered the bill.

"We were worried that we were created some kind of loophole where a crafty defense attorney could use to argue that the case should be dismissed for the acts that occurred outside the jurisdiction," Albo says.

They eventually came to the conclusion that the effort was worth the risk, and it was passed by the House and Senate without opposition. It's now waiting for the governor's signature.


 



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