General Assembly passes bill amending 21-day rule
The State Senate voted 37-2 on Thursday to pass a bill that would make it easier for those who have been wrongly convicted of a crime to bring up new evidence to prove their innocence, even beyond 21 days after their convictions.
HB 1432 had already passed the House unanimously and will now go to the governor for his signature.
The bill amends Virginia’s Writ of Actual Innocence law to change the standard the defendant must satisfy to be exonerated. The concern was that the current law is so stringent that even people who are innocent may not be able to get relief. The bill also formally allows the attorney general to provide the court with evidence of innocence, not just guilt.
“I am gratified for the passage of the amended Writ of Actual Innocence bill toda,” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. “This is a critically important bill, one that ensures that justice will prevail, especially when the law has failed and the innocent are wrongly punished for crimes they did not commit.
“Today, we are one step closer to ensuring that our justice system works as smoothly and clearly as possible, including the recognition that when a mistake has occurred, a meaningful judicial remedy should be available. I would like to thank Delegate Albo for shepherding this important legislation through the General Assembly.”