Senators Ryan McDougle and William Stanley, Jr. claimed a victory in the General Assembly this week with a bill that adds to the list of felonies associated with stolen catalytic converters.
Virginia already has a catalytic converter vandalism law on the books, which makes it a felony to break, injure, tamper with or remove a catalytic converter.
McDougle’s bill targets the next step—attempting to make money from the stolen goods.
His legislation makes it a Class 6 felony to sell, offer, or purchase a catalytic converter that has been detached from a vehicle unless the transaction is made with or by a scrap metal dealer who meets certain compliance provisions.
Under McDougle’s SB 1135, judges and juries have the authority to make the inference that a person who has a catalytic converter that’s been removed violated the law unless:
1) The person is an authorized agent or employee performing duties for a vehicle dealer, repair shop, or salvage yard licensed or registered in Virginia.
2) The person is a scrap metal purchaser in compliance with § 59.1-136.3.
3) The person has vehicle registration documents that can show the catalytic converter came from a vehicle registered to that person.
Senator Stanley submitted a similar bill that was incorporated into McDougle’s bill. That addition will make it also illegal to transport an illegally removed catalytic converter out of Virginia with the intent to sell it.
As proposed, a person could not be charged under the McDougle-Stanley legislation and the existing vandalism law.
The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission projects that if this bill becomes law, those convicted will be sentenced similarly to those convicted under larceny under the catalytic converter vandalism law.
Data from Sentencing Guidelines show between FY 21-22, 13% of those larceny convictions resulted in a median prison sentence of 1.6 years, 45% received a jail sentence of 3 months, and 41% weren’t incarcerated after sentencing.
The McDougle-Stanley bill passed the Senate 39-0.
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