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Democrats want to make it harder to prosecute property theft in Virginia


Conservative leaders blast the measure as a 'weak-on-crime' electoral ploy

Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A new law being proposed by Virginia Democrats would make it harder for police officers to prosecute property theft suspects in the commonwealth.

Democrat Alfonso Lopez, a Virginia House delegate and former Obama administration official, is sponsoring House Bill 263, which would raise the property value threshold for grand larceny charges from $500 to $2,000.

Lopez's bill is one of three pieces of legislation designed to raise the threshold for stronger property theft charges that carry stiffer penalties and qualify as felonies in Virginia.

Part of a 'weak-on-crime' pattern

At least one prominent conservative leader is speaking out against the proposal. Reached by telephone, constitutional law attorney and Daily Wire editor-at-large Josh Hammer told TheBlaze that Lopez's bill is part of a pattern among Democrats and like-minded "weak-on-crime" Republicans.

"Across the country, we see so many leftist Democrats — joined by no small share of libertarian-leaning Republicans — subscribing to the same weak-on-crime agenda," Hammer, who has been critical of similar so-called "criminal justice reform" efforts, said.

"New York's harrowing recent 'bail reform' proposal is a shining example, and this Democratic proposal in Virginia fits in neatly, as well. Americans have historically cherished law and order, and it is devastating to see these kind of jailbreak, pro-criminal policies take hold as we descend further into mass lawlessness," he added.

An electoral strategy?

Local Republican leaders are concerned that the proposal would lead to more crime and at least one conservative activist noted it may be part of an electoral ploy by the left to increase the number of eligible Democratic voters in Virginia. The enactment of the new law would mean fewer convicted criminals qualifying as felons, who are ineligible to vote in the state.

Dave Briggman, a conservative activist in central Virginia, described the proposal as a "radical" effort by local Democrats.

"In a state where driving 10 over the 70 mph highway speed limit can get you a 12-month jail sentence and a $2,500 fine, Virginia Democrats continue their radical efforts to 'reform' our criminal statutes," he said in an interview with TheBlaze.

Briggman also noted that Lopez's proposal would incentivize property theft and could strengthen Democrats' political control in the state's capital, Richmond.

"The Democrats' goal here is to allow for the commission of serious crimes, without labeling offenders as 'felons' so they can continue voting for extreme leftists in elections and turn Virginia into California," he said. "Keep in mind that is happening while the same Democrat extremists are trying to make felons out of most law-abiding gun owners in laws that seek to to ban and confiscate most semi-automatic weapons in production today."

The measures will be debated when the Virginia legislature reconvenes next week.

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