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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Cyber Crimes, Other Bills Sent for Final Votes

The U.S. Virgin Islands will have specific statutes criminalizing an array of computer-related offenses, like using a computer for fraud, stealing data, and cyber-stalking and harassment, if legislation approved by the Rules and Judiciary committee Friday becomes law.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Diane Capehart, would make it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to use computers, or information on computers, or to send information online or through a computer network, for a fraudulent purpose. It also would make it a felony to destroy data or software that is required by law to be kept, or to obstruct an investigation by destroying data or equipment.

Stealing computer equipment or data worth more than $500 would be a felony and if it is valued at less than $500, it would be a misdemeanor. [Bill 30-0006]

Using a computer or smartphone to stalk or harass someone "for the sole purpose" of harassing them would be a misdemeanor, and if the person is doing so in violation of a restraining order, it would be a felony.

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The committee also voted to send forward a bill sponsored by Sen. Sammuel Sanes, making it illegal for a person convicted of a violent felony to possess body armor. (Bill 30-0062)

It also sent forward a bill making it a felony for a prison inmate to throw any bodily fluid at anyone, anywhere, if they know they have a contagious disease, and a misdemeanor if not. (Bill 30-0039).

Also approved were two bills to add peace officer status to an array of law enforcement personnel at the Legislature, in Superior Court, at V.I Waste Management Authority and elsewhere in the V.I. Government, giving them the arrest powers that come with it, if two bills approved by the Rules and Judiciary Committee become law.

One, sponsored by Sanes, [30-0045] would add peace officer status to the Legislature’s chief of security, deputy chief of security and sergeant of arms, as well as the executive security officers of the Office of the Governor.

An amendment from Sanes added that the governor may "temporarily reassign peace officers employed within the executive branch to perform police work in any area designated by the Police Commissioner."

The other [30-0117], with multiple sponsors, confers peace officer status on "qualified probation officers of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands and Waste Management Authority enforcement officers."

An amendment from Sen. Kenneth Gittens clarified that peace officer status can only be given if the individual has had the same training and passed the same qualifying examination as regular police officers.

Also approved by the committee were bills:
– from Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone to exempt land transfers that are part of family trusts and corporate mergers from V.I. Stamp Tax [30-0177];
– and from Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly to allow the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to issue non-driving license identification cards to any legal resident of the territory.

And two resolutions:
– from Sanes honoring the late boxer Emile Griffith;
– and from Sanes honoring late philanthropist and columnist Sidney Lee by renaming the road on which Island Center is located in his honor.

All measures were approved without dissent. Voting yes on each measure were Capehart, Sanes, Gittens, Sens. Janette Millin Young and Myron Jackson. Sens. Donald Cole and Shawn-Michael Malone were absent. They will all be given final votes during legislative session scheduled for Sept. 26-27.

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The U.S. Virgin Islands will have specific statutes criminalizing an array of computer-related offenses, like using a computer for fraud, stealing data, and cyber-stalking and harassment, if legislation approved by the Rules and Judiciary committee Friday becomes law.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Diane Capehart, would make it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to use computers, or information on computers, or to send information online or through a computer network, for a fraudulent purpose. It also would make it a felony to destroy data or software that is required by law to be kept, or to obstruct an investigation by destroying data or equipment.

Stealing computer equipment or data worth more than $500 would be a felony and if it is valued at less than $500, it would be a misdemeanor. [Bill 30-0006]

Using a computer or smartphone to stalk or harass someone "for the sole purpose" of harassing them would be a misdemeanor, and if the person is doing so in violation of a restraining order, it would be a felony.

The committee also voted to send forward a bill sponsored by Sen. Sammuel Sanes, making it illegal for a person convicted of a violent felony to possess body armor. (Bill 30-0062)

It also sent forward a bill making it a felony for a prison inmate to throw any bodily fluid at anyone, anywhere, if they know they have a contagious disease, and a misdemeanor if not. (Bill 30-0039).

Also approved were two bills to add peace officer status to an array of law enforcement personnel at the Legislature, in Superior Court, at V.I Waste Management Authority and elsewhere in the V.I. Government, giving them the arrest powers that come with it, if two bills approved by the Rules and Judiciary Committee become law.

One, sponsored by Sanes, [30-0045] would add peace officer status to the Legislature’s chief of security, deputy chief of security and sergeant of arms, as well as the executive security officers of the Office of the Governor.

An amendment from Sanes added that the governor may "temporarily reassign peace officers employed within the executive branch to perform police work in any area designated by the Police Commissioner."

The other [30-0117], with multiple sponsors, confers peace officer status on "qualified probation officers of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands and Waste Management Authority enforcement officers."

An amendment from Sen. Kenneth Gittens clarified that peace officer status can only be given if the individual has had the same training and passed the same qualifying examination as regular police officers.

Also approved by the committee were bills:
- from Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone to exempt land transfers that are part of family trusts and corporate mergers from V.I. Stamp Tax [30-0177];
- and from Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly to allow the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to issue non-driving license identification cards to any legal resident of the territory.

And two resolutions:
- from Sanes honoring the late boxer Emile Griffith;
- and from Sanes honoring late philanthropist and columnist Sidney Lee by renaming the road on which Island Center is located in his honor.

All measures were approved without dissent. Voting yes on each measure were Capehart, Sanes, Gittens, Sens. Janette Millin Young and Myron Jackson. Sens. Donald Cole and Shawn-Michael Malone were absent. They will all be given final votes during legislative session scheduled for Sept. 26-27.