Virginia Criminal Justice Conference

Mission Statement

The Virginia Criminal Justice Conference seeks to improve criminal justice in Virginia by assembling selected legal professionals and stakeholders in the field of criminal law to study and discuss issues of interest, to gather information, and, when substantial consensus can be reached, to propose legislation or rule changes to effect reform of criminal law and criminal procedure.  

Membership in the Conference is by invitation to those who have developed expertise in criminal law and procedure through study and practice. The Conference convenes prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, jurists from each level of Virginia courts, legal scholars, counsel to the House and Senate court committees of the Virginia General Assembly, the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, legislators, and others with special expertise and experience in criminal law and procedure. The Conference strives to maintain a balance between prosecutors and defense attorneys and diversity in gender, ethnic background and geographic coverage, taking into consideration urban and rural areas of the Commonwealth.  The Conference does not represent any particular group, constituency or political view. Click HERE for Articles of Organization

Membership Roster

Please click here for a complete listing of the 2018 VCJC Membership Roster

2019 VCJC Study Committees

Carried over from 2018:
Elder Abuse
Deferred dispositions for misdemeanors

2019 issues coming soon!

2017 Conference Materials - Click Here


VCJC was created in 2006 when Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Bushnell and criminal defense attorney Andrew Sacks gathered a group of prosecutors and defense attorneys to confer on criminal justice issues.  With the support of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (VTLA), the conference was established to develop information and proposals in areas where courtroom adversaries could agree on ways to improve the criminal justice system.  

The 50-plus members of the Conference include prosecutors, defense attorneys from private practice, public defenders, jurists from each level of Virginia courts, legal scholars, and counsel to the House and Senate Courts Committees and State Crime Commission.  The conference convenes annually while its various study committees meet and confer year round.  The 2016 conference is scheduled for September 23 and 24, 2016, at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center in Staunton.

VCJC is modeled after the Boyd-Graves Conference of the Virginia Bar Association, which was formed in 1978 to propose improvements to Virginia’s civil law.  Adopting the Boyd-Graves approach, VCJC seeks consensus on improvements to the Commonwealth’s criminal law and procedure for recommendation to the General Assembly and Supreme Court.

Over the last nine years many issues have been studied and discussed. Among them are discovery, fiduciary fraud, the magistrate system, the role of the court with regard to unrepresented parties, availability of court reporters, bail presumptions and practices, deferred dispositions, expungement, sexting, contempt, Melendez-Diaz, appellate counsel, and depositions in criminal cases.  VCJC’s deliberations do not always result in consensus, but the discussion is always collegial and intellectually stimulating. 

Legislation proposed by VCJC which passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by the Governor include the following:


Legislation adopted allowing defense counsel to issue subpoenas.
Legislation prohibiting magistrates from issuing felony warrants without police or prosecutor involvement. 
Legislation allowing the filing of a search warrant affidavit, search warrant, and search inventory by electronically transmitted facsimile process.
Legislation to permit jury sentencing upon a guilty plea in a capital case and legislation amending Code § 19.2-76.1 to allow attorneys for the Commonwealth to move for dismissal, without prejudice, of un-served warrants.  
Legislation amending procedures for appeals of bond decisions (§§ 19.2-124 and 19.2-132)
Legislation regulating appeals of summary contempt judgments from the district courts (§ 18.2-459)
Legislation amending §19.2-158 providing that bond hearings must be held as soon as practicable after arrest, but no later than three calendar days following the making or filing of a motion for bail, excepting weekends, legal holidays and where good cause is shown.  
Legislation allowing for uncontested expungements to be granted without a hearing where the Commonwealth Attorney concurs.
Legislation amending §18.2-308.2(C), dealing with restoration of the right to possess and carry a firearm, allowing for venue in the circuit court of the last relevant conviction or adjudication, in addition to the circuit court where the petitioner resides.

In addition to proposing legislation and rule changes, VCJC provides input and recommendations to commissions, study groups and other entities engaged in criminal law reform when solicited to do so and when otherwise appropriate.  As an example, VCJC played an important role in the joint decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia State Bar, and the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission to create a joint study committee to undertake a review of the current system of qualification and appointment of capital counsel.