Scott Surovell is so proud of himself as reported in last week's Gazette. The good senator after eight consecutive annual failures has finally succeeded in convincing the General Assembly to raise Virginia's threshold between misdemeanors and felonies from $200 to $500. Despite this "success," he still bemoans that a $500 threshold is still the second lowest in the United States. I am wondering: Who is Senator Surovell representing in this effort, his constituents or the clients in his law practice?
Senator Surovell's law firm website touts its great effectiveness having "prevailed in the most serious of cases, such as those involving murder charges." The website holds his firm out as experts in defending criminals including those accused of committing "Theft and other property crimes." Does anybody sniff a conflict of interest here? The scent of conflict is quite strong.
Fairfax County has one of the lowest crime rates in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. There are several reasons why this is the case. First and foremost, we have a superb police force that maintains an active presence patrolling our county and investigating crimes. Next, our citizenry is aware and vigilant and understands the concept that if you see something, say something. The underpinning of effectiveness in reducing crime is the Virginia Code which, up until Senator Surovell's efforts, made it a felony to steal property having a value of $200 or more. Now the threshold will be $500. Think of all the property items you possess that are worth just under $500 and realize that, now, thanks to the efforts of the good senator, criminals will be less deterred from stealing such items because they know that, not only will they not be in peril of being convicted of a felony which could result in a prison term of greater than a year, additionally, lawyers like Scott Surovell can more easily plea bargain the theft of your thousand dollar television down to a misdemeanor.
Thank you to those of you who sent Scott Surovell to Richmond to represent the interests of his law firm and their criminal defendant clients as opposed to you. I am not embarrassed by Virginia's low state-by-state ranking in the category of the dollar threshold between misdemeanor and felony. To the contrary, I am satisfied with that low ranking because it helps us to be a low crime jurisdiction.
H. Jay Spiegel