ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
The best thing about campaigning is having the opportunity to meet so many Chesterfield residents one-on-one. As I meet more and more people, I find that many residents are asking the same very important questions. On this page, I hope to answer those questions for you. Please feel free to send a question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you think we should help or incarcerate people that are charged with crimes as a result of addiction and/or mental illness?
As a former Public Defender, I have a very deep understanding of how addition and mental illness can frequently result in an individual being charged with a crime. Sometimes these two problems even go hand-in-hand, as addicts frequently began using drugs or alcohol as a way to "self-medicate" an untreated mental illness. I absolutely support treatment options and programs that address the underlying issues of treating the mental illness and/or helping the individual stop the cycle of addiction, rather than simply convicting them of a crime and incarcerating them with no interest in treating the underlying problem. Exactly how to strike a balance between treatment and public safety is typically very case specific and sometimes calls for treatment pretrial, sometimes post conviction, and sometimes throughout the criminal justice process. My hope is to work collaboratively with the programs and agencies in Chesterfield that currently offer these programs to strengthen and grow the existing programslook at options for new programs to better serve our community.
What is your position on the whether to prosecute someone who injures another person in self-defense?
The law in Virginia is that an individual can defend himself/herself if there is a reasonable belief of an immediate threat of imminent bodily harm or death. The amount of force that can be used in defense of oneself must be proportionate to the force the individual is attempting to dispel, which means self-defense can come with or without the use of a weapon of any kind. Therefore, every case in which self-defense is a potential defense must be independently reviewed based solely on the facts as they arise from that case. It is impossible to give a general answer as to what is and what is not allowed as self-defense. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is tasked not just with prosecuting crime, but also with reviewing cases in conjunction with the police to determine whether a crime was actually committed at all in less clear-cut cases, and many cases that involve a claim of self-defense would fall into that portion of cases that would be jointly reviewed prior to any issuance of charges. I have a very unique understanding and appreciation of the legal issues and factual circumstances that can surround these decisions on self-defense claims. As a defense attorney, I have represented individuals at trial that were charged with crimes whose defense was a claim of self-defense, and I have both won and lost those cases based on how the facts came out at trial. As a prosecutor, I have participated in reviewing cases to determine whether charges should be pursued at all due to a claim of self-defense, and I have made the decision not to charge an individual because I believed they acted in self-defense. As a Commonwealth’s Attorney, I have an ethical duty to only prosecute a case where there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Therefore, in any case in which I believe the individual acted in self-defense, I do not, will not and must not charge or prosecute the individual.
What is your position on the Second Amendment?
I am a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and I believe it should be strictly construed, as written. It's not guns that kill people; people kill people. I believe that anyone who is legally eligible to own a gun should be able to purchase any gun they choose. The best way to provide for the safety of our communities isn't to limit the ability of law abiding citizens to purchase and own gun. Rather, it is by strictly enforcing our current laws that restrict felons from purchasing and owning weapons and increasing the availability and access to mental health treatment for those that are suffering from mental health disorders. We also need to make great strides as a society to remove the stigma that comes with mental illness, in an effort to encourage those suffering to be more apt to seek out help.