Taking Your Kid Late to School? Now You Won’t Be Charged With a Misdemeanor In Virginia

November 10, 2014


A few days ago, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a parent cannot be charged of a crime when their child arrives late to school.  The ruling stemmed from a Loudoun County 2012 case involving a mother who was convicted of 3 misdemeanors for her children’s tardiness.

The convictions were based on Virginia’s mandatory attendance law (Virginia Code 22.1-254), which states that students should be in school the same amount of hours each day.  In overturning the convictions, the Virginia Supreme Court said that the mandatory attendance law cannot be interpreted to encompass tardiness.  According to the Judge, such a broad interpretation would allow prosecution of parents for every minor infraction of  attendance.

The Loudoun County school system  has not referred any more parents for prosecution since 2012.  Other schools in the area generally discipline students who are late, rather than pursue criminal charges.

I agree that it’s important to have children to school on time, but I think it’s a waste of resources to charge the parents with a crime.  Thankfully, parents can no longer be charged with misdemeanors for a child’s tardiness in Virginia.

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You Have Been Served… On Facebook

November 3, 2014


In September, a New York court approved service of process via Facebook in a child support case.   The father attempted to serve the mother at her house, but she no longer lived there, and had left no forwarding address.  Neither she nor the children would not respond to phone calls or emails, but she was active on Facebook.  This decision was the first in the United States that included both parties who lived in the country.

There have been other cases allowing service via Facebook where one party lived overseas.  In the Eastern District of Virginia, the court allowed service via social media on a Defendant who allegedly lived in Turkey.  In 2011, a Minnesota family court authorized service via social media where the Defendant had left the country, reasoning that it would be more cost effective and increase the likelihood that the Defendant would see the notice.

Is service via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc the future of law?  It seems likely to me.  With all of the technology available to us – read receipts for emails and notifications for other social media – it seems archaic that we still rely on personal service by a process server or substituted service by mail.

In family law cases, we have the option of service by publication as well.  Where do you think the Defendant would be more likely to see the notice of the law suit – the legal section of a newspaper that they probably don’t read, or through a notification or message through social media?

In any event, the New York decision represents a significant milestone and deserves attention. As Facebook and social media become a major part of our daily lives, I think we can expect to see other judges expanding circumstances where service via social media would be appropriate.

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