Did Tony Spencer fail Criminal Law 101 at law school?

I’m basing this post on the assumption that the information printed by the Emporia Independent Messenger is accurate. I’m also assuming that Benjamin Boyd’s defense attorney Morgan Griffith is telling the truth. No offense intended to Delegate Griffith, but he is a defense attorney after all. And you know what they say about assuming…

From the Emporia Independent Messenger:

Boyd has a heavy hitter representing him in defense, attorney Morgan Griffith, who is also the number two Republican in the Virginia House of Delegates, as the District 8 Representative. “The misdemeanor conviction brought on a small fine and 18 months’ probation,” said Griffith. “This all happened before he ever became a teacher. He put down on his application that he had misdemeanors on his record, but wasn’t specific. Boyd was hired at Caroline. The Superintendent of Caroline County Schools, Gregory Killough, knew the specifics of the conviction and said he forgot to mention them to the school board. A second meeting was held and the board learned of the facts surrounding the 1991 case and decided to hire the coach. It was later that the recent charges were filed. “I don’t believe there was a forgery,” said Griffith. He didn’t sign a false name. “Uttering would be the passing of the application and I don’t believe there was any intent to deceive.” Griffith said that Boyd still plans to coach the Cavaliers this year.

Based on what I can find on the application for employees of the Caroline County School Board, the question involved is this: “Have you ever been convicted (as guilty or not innocent) of a violation of law other than a minor traffic violation? (If yes, attach explanation.)” If Griffith is accurate, then Boyd checked “Yes” on that question but failed to elaborate on a separate sheet.

(As a sidenote there’s a question stating: “Have you been convicted (as guilty or not innocent, or a determination of abuse or neglect founded against you) of any offense involving moral turpitude, the sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse or rape of a child, or any like offense against an adult? (If yes, attach explanation.)” That question is a requirement of Va. Code § 22.1-296.1, but that’s a null point because the crimes that Boyd pled guilty were not crimes “involving moral turpitude” as I previously pointed out.)

And as Griffith pointed out in the story, where’s the intent to defraud that’s a requirement of a charge of forgery? Better yet, where’s the act that Boyd is being charged for? An omission in attaching a sheet to an application results in a charge of forgery and uttering? So much for requiring either an actus reus (guilty act) or a mens rea (guilty mind) to be charged with a crime.

And here’s a simple way to sort all this out without the legal mumbo jumbo: If the Virginia General Assembly ever thought that an omission or untruthful statement on an application was punishable by forgery and uttering of a public document (two Class 4 felonies), then why did they enact § 22.1-296.1 which provides for punishment for omitting or lying about convictions for sexual abuse or a “crime of moral turpitude”, which is only punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and/or $2,500 fine)? Why be able to charge someone with a Class 1 misdemeanor when you can throw a guy in prison for 20 years for forgery and uttering? It’s going to be some funny stuff when Morgan Griffith — who has been a Delegate for over 15 years — gets up during the trial and starts talking about the intent of  the General Assembly in enacting certain laws.

Boyd is neither guilty of forgery nor uttering of a public document, nor is he guilty of violating § 22.1-296.1; he’s simply guilty of applying for the same job as the son-in-law of Sheriff. He’s also guilty of applying for a job in a county where the Commonwealth’s Attorney has abandoned what’s supposed to be his neutral and detached role.

It looks like Spencer apparently failed Criminal Law 101 at law school too…

H/t: Portsia Smith’s “Caroline Crossroads” blog.

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