Gang-Related Legislation by State Index

Virginia

Carjacking (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-53.1. Use or Display of Firearm in Committing Felony.

It shall be unlawful for any person to use or attempt to use any pistol, shotgun, rifle, or other firearm or display such weapon in a threatening manner while committing or attempting to commit murder, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration as defined in § 18.2-67.2, robbery, carjacking, burglary, malicious wounding as defined in § 18.2-51, malicious bodily injury to a law-enforcement officer as defined in § 18.2-51.1, aggravated malicious wounding as defined in § 18.2-51.2, malicious wounding by mob as defined in § 18.2-41 or abduction. Violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct felony and any person found guilty thereof shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years for a first conviction, and to a mandatory minimum term of 5 years for a second or subsequent conviction under the provisions of this section. Such punishment shall be separate and apart from, and shall be made to run consecutively with, any punishment received for the commission of the primary felony.

Virginia § 18.2-58.1. Carjacking; Penalty.

A. Any person who commits carjacking, as herein defined, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or a term not less than 15 years.

B. As used in this section, "carjacking" means the intentional seizure or seizure of control of a motor vehicle of another with intent to permanently or temporarily deprive another in possession or control of the vehicle of that possession or control by means of partial strangulation, or suffocation, or by striking or beating, or by other violence to the person, or by assault or otherwise putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm, or by the threat or presenting of firearms, or other deadly weapon or instrumentality whatsoever. "Motor vehicle" shall have the same meaning as set forth in § 46.2-100.

C. The provisions of this section shall not preclude the applicability of any other provision of the criminal law of the Commonwealth which may apply to any course of conduct which violates this section.

Drive-By Shooting (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-286.1. Shooting From Vehicles So as to Endanger Persons; Penalty.

Any person who, while in or on a motor vehicle, intentionally discharges a firearm so as to create the risk of injury or death to another person or thereby cause another person to have a reasonable apprehension of injury or death shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony. Nothing in this section shall apply to a law-enforcement officer in the performance of his duties.

Enhanced Penalties—Sentencing (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-46.3:3. Enhanced Punishment for Gang Activity Taking Place in a Gang-Free Zone; Penalties

Any person who violates § 18.2-46.2 (i) upon the property, including buildings and grounds, of any public or private elementary, secondary, or postsecondary school, or any public or private two-year or four-year institution of higher education; (ii) upon public property or any property open to public use within 1,000 feet of such school property; (iii) on any school bus as defined in § 46.2-100; or (iv) upon the property, including buildings and grounds, of any publicly owned or operated community center or any publicly owned or operated recreation center is guilty of a felony punishable as specified in § 18.2-46.2, and shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years to be served consecutively with any other sentence. A person who violates subsection A of § 18.2-46.3 upon any property listed in this section is guilty of a Class 6 felony, except that any person 18 years of age or older who violates subsection A of § 18.2-46.3 upon any property listed in this section, when such offense is committed against a juvenile, is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Any person who violates subsection B of § 18.2-46.3 upon any property listed in this section is guilty of a Class 5 felony. It is a violation of this section if the person violated § 18.2-46.2 or 18.2-46.3 on the property described in clauses (i) through (iii) regardless of where the person intended to commit such violation.

Gang Activity and Forfeiture (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-46.3:2. Forfeiture

All property, both personal and real, of any kind or character used in substantial connection with, intended for use in the course of, derived from, traceable to, or realized through, including any profit or interest derived from, any conduct in violation of any provision of this article is subject to civil forfeiture to the Commonwealth. Further, all property, both personal and real, of any kind or character used or intended to be used in substantial connection with, during the course of, derived from, traceable to, or realized through, including any profit or interest derived from, criminal street gang member recruitment as prohibited under § 18.2-46.3 is subject to civil forfeiture to the Commonwealth. The forfeiture proceeding shall utilize the provisions of Chapter 22.1 (§ 19.2-386.1 et seq.) of Title 19.2 and the procedures specified therein shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to all forfeitures under this article. The application of one civil remedy under the article does not preclude the application of any other remedy, civil or criminal, under this article or any other provision of the Code.

Gang Databases (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 16.1-300. Confidentiality of Department Records

10. With the exception of medical, psychiatric, and psychological records and reports, any full-time or part-time employee of the Department of State Police or of a police department or sheriff's office that is a part of or administrated by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, and who is responsible for the enforcement of the penal, traffic, or motor vehicle laws of the Commonwealth, is entitled to any information related to a criminal street gang including that a person is a member of a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1. Information shall be provided by the Department to law enforcement without their request to aid in initiating an investigation or assist in an ongoing investigation of a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1. The Department shall not release the identifying information of a juvenile not affiliated with or involved in a criminal street gang unless that information relates to a specific criminal act. No person who obtains information pursuant to this subdivision shall divulge such information except in connection with a criminal investigation regarding a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1 that is authorized by the Attorney General or by the attorney for the Commonwealth or in connection with a prosecution or proceeding in court

Virginia § 52-8.6. Criminal Street Gang Reporting

When it is determined, by a state or local law-enforcement agency, regional jail, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, or a regional multijurisdictional law-enforcement task force, that a person is a member of a criminal street gang, as defined in § 18.2-46.1 by means of (i) an admission of membership in a gang; (ii) an observation by a law-enforcement officer that a person frequents a known gang area, associates with known gang members and demonstrates gang style of dress, tattoos, hand signals, or symbols; or (iii) being arrested on more than one occasion with known gang members for offenses consistent with gang activities, the agency shall enter the person's name and other appropriate gang-related information required by the Department of State Police into the information system known as the Organized Criminal Gang File of the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN), established and maintained by the Department pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 52-12 et seq.) of this title, and the Violent Criminal Gang File of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The entry shall be made as soon as practicable after determining that a person is a member of an organized criminal gang. All records contained in these information systems shall be entered, retained, and validated in accordance with established VCIN and NCIC policies.

Virginia § 53.1-10. Powers and Duties of Director

The Director shall be the chief executive officer of the Department and shall have the following duties and powers:

7. To collect data pertaining to the demographic characteristics of adults, and juveniles who are adjudicated as adults, incarcerated in state correctional institutions, including, but not limited to, the race or ethnicity, age, and gender of such persons, whether they are a member of a criminal gang, and the types of and extent to which health-related problems are prevalent among such persons. Beginning July 1, 1997, such data shall be collected, tabulated quarterly, and reported by the Director to the Governor and the General Assembly at each regular session of the General Assembly thereafter. The report shall be submitted as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports;

9. To forward to the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council, updated on a monthly basis, a list of all identified criminal gang members incarcerated in state correctional institutions. The list shall contain identifying information for each criminal gang member, as well as his criminal record; and

10. To give notice, to the attorney for the Commonwealth prosecuting a defendant for an offense that occurred in a state correctional facility, of that defendant's known gang membership. The notice shall contain identifying information for each criminal gang member as well as his criminal record; and

Virginia § 66-3.2. Additional Duties of the Director

A. The Director shall coordinate with the Department of Corrections the development and submission of requests for compensation from the United States Department of Justice State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for costs associated with incarcerating undocumented aliens.

B. The Director shall forward to the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council, updated on a monthly basis, a list of all juveniles, 14 years of age or older, who (i) have been committed to the Department, (ii) have been found guilty of a felony offense defined as a predicate criminal act under § 18.2-46.1, or have been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of an act that would be a felony and a predicate criminal act under § 18.2-46.1 if committed by an adult, and (iii) have been identified as belonging to a criminal gang. The list shall contain identifying information for each gang member, as well as the offense, court, and date of conviction or adjudication.

Gang Participation (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-46.2. Prohibited Criminal Street Gang Participation; Penalty

A. Any person who actively participates in or is a member of a criminal street gang and who knowingly and willfully participates in any predicate criminal act committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony. However, if such participant in or member of a criminal street gang is age 18 years or older and knows or has reason to know that such criminal street gang also includes a juvenile member or participant, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

B. Violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. If the acts or activities violating this section also violate another provision of law, a prosecution under this section shall not prohibit or bar any prosecution or proceeding under such other provision or the imposition of any penalties provided for thereby.

Gang Prevention (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 22.1-199.5. After School Programs for At-Risk Students

A local school board may establish after school programs designed to prevent at-risk youth from engaging in illegal or gang-related activities for school aged children.

Local funds appropriated for K through 12 education may be used to support such after-school programs.

Gang Prosecution (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-46.3:1. Third or Subsequent Conviction of Criminal Street Gang Crimes

Upon a felony conviction of Section 18.2-46.2 or Section 18.2-46.3, where it is alleged in the warrant, information, or indictment on which a person is convicted that (i) such person has been previously convicted twice under any combination of Section 18.2-46.2 or Section 18.2-46.3, within 10 years of the third or subsequent offense, and (ii) each such offense occurred on different dates, such person is guilty of a Class 3 felony.

Gang Recruitment, Threats, Intimidation (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-46.3. Recruitment of Persons for Criminal Street Gang; Penalty

A. Any person who solicits, invites, recruits, encourages, or otherwise causes or attempts to cause another to actively participate in or become a member of what he knows to be a criminal street gang is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any person age 18 years or older who solicits, invites, recruits, encourages, or otherwise causes or attempts to cause a juvenile to actively participate in or become a member of what he knows to be a criminal street gang is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

B. Any person who, in order to encourage an individual (a) to join a criminal street gang, (b) to remain as a participant in or a member of a criminal street gang, or (c) to submit to a demand made by a criminal street gang to commit a felony violation of this title, (i) uses force against the individual or a member of his family or household or (ii) threatens force against the individual or a member of his family or household, which threat would place any person in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury, is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The definition of "family or household member" set forth in Section 16.1-228 applies to this section.

Virginia § 18.2-55.1. Hazing of Youth Gang Members Unlawful; Criminal Liability.

It shall be unlawful to cause bodily injury by hazing (i) any member of a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1, or (ii) a person seeking to become a member of a youth gang or criminal street gang. Any person found guilty of hazing is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

For the purposes of this section, “hazing” means to recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a person or to inflict bodily injury on a person in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a youth gang or criminal street gang regardless of whether the person so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.

Gang-Related Clothing, Dress Codes, School Uniforms (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 22.1-79.2. Uniforms in Public Schools; Board of Education Guidelines

A. The Board of Education shall develop model guidelines for local school boards to utilize when establishing requirements for pupils to wear uniforms. In developing these guidelines, the Board shall consider (i) ways to promote parental and community involvement, (ii) relevant state and federal constitutional concerns, such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and (iii) the ability of pupils to purchase such clothing.

B. Upon approval by the Board of the model guidelines, local school boards may establish requirements, consistent with the Board’s guidelines, for the students enrolled in any of their schools to wear uniforms while in attendance at such school during the regular school day. No state funds may be used for the purchase of school uniforms.

Gang-Related Definitions (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-46.1. Definitions

As used in this article unless the context requires otherwise or it is otherwise provided:

"Act of violence"* means those felony offenses described in subsection A of § 19.2-297.1.

"Criminal street gang"* means any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, (i) which has as one of its primary objectives or activities the commission of one or more criminal activities; (ii) which has an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol; and (iii) whose members individually or collectively have engaged in the commission of, attempt to commit, conspiracy to commit, or solicitation of two or more predicate criminal acts, at least one of which is an act of violence, provided such acts were not part of a common act or transaction.

"Predicate criminal act" means (i) an act of violence; (ii) any violation of § 18.2-31, 18.2-42, 18.2-46.3, 18.2-51, 18.2-51.1, 18.2–51.2, 18.2–51.3, 18.2–51.6, 18.2-52, 18.2-52.1, 18.2-53, 18.2-55, 18.2-56.1, 18.2-57, 18.2-57.2, 18.2-59, 18.2–83, 18.2–89, 18.2–90, 18.2–95, 18.2–108.1, 18.2-121, 18.2-127, 18.2-128, 18.2-137, 18.2-138, 18.2-146, 18.2-147, 18.2-248.01, 18.2-248.03, 18.2-255, 18.2-255.2, 18.2-279, 18.2-282.1, 18.2-286.1, 18.2-287.4, 18.2–289, 18.2–300, 18.2-308.1, 18.2-308.2, 18.2-308.2:01, 18.2-308.4, 18.2-355, 18.2-356, or 18.2-357; (iii) a felony violation of § 18.2-60.3 or 18.2-248.1:1;(iv) a felony violation of § 18.2-248 or of § 18.2-248.1 or a conspiracy to commit a felony violation of § 18.2-248 or 18.2-248.1;(v) any violation of a local ordinance adopted pursuant to § 15.2-1812.2; or (vi) any substantially similar offense under the laws of another state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the United States.

Virginia § 18.2-55.1. Hazing of Youth Gang Members Unlawful; Criminal Liability.

It shall be unlawful to cause bodily injury by hazing (i) any member of a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1, or (ii) a person seeking to become a member of a youth gang or criminal street gang. Any person found guilty of hazing is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

For the purposes of this section, “hazing” means to recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a person or to inflict bodily injury on a person in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a youth gang or criminal street gang regardless of whether the person so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.

Gang-Related Funding (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 22.1-199.5. After School Programs for At-Risk Students

A local school board may establish after school programs designed to prevent at-risk youth from engaging in illegal or gang-related activities for school aged children.

Local funds appropriated for K through 12 education may be used to support such after-school programs.

Gangs and Correctional Facilities (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 53.1-10. Powers and Duties of Director

The Director shall be the chief executive officer of the Department and shall have the following duties and powers:

7. To collect data pertaining to the demographic characteristics of adults, and juveniles who are adjudicated as adults, incarcerated in state correctional institutions, including, but not limited to, the race or ethnicity, age, and gender of such persons, whether they are a member of a criminal gang, and the types of and extent to which health-related problems are prevalent among such persons. Beginning July 1, 1997, such data shall be collected, tabulated quarterly, and reported by the Director to the Governor and the General Assembly at each regular session of the General Assembly thereafter. The report shall be submitted as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports;

9. To forward to the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council, updated on a monthly basis, a list of all identified criminal gang members incarcerated in state correctional institutions. The list shall contain identifying information for each criminal gang member, as well as his criminal record; and

10. To give notice, to the attorney for the Commonwealth prosecuting a defendant for an offense that occurred in a state correctional facility, of that defendant's known gang membership. The notice shall contain identifying information for each criminal gang member as well as his criminal record; and

Virginia § 66-3.2. Additional Duties of the Director

A. The Director shall coordinate with the Department of Corrections the development and submission of requests for compensation from the United States Department of Justice State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for costs associated with incarcerating undocumented aliens.

B. The Director shall forward to the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council, updated on a monthly basis, a list of all juveniles, 14 years of age or older, who (i) have been committed to the Department, (ii) have been found guilty of a felony offense defined as a predicate criminal act under § 18.2-46.1, or have been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of an act that would be a felony and a predicate criminal act under § 18.2-46.1 if committed by an adult, and (iii) have been identified as belonging to a criminal gang. The list shall contain identifying information for each gang member, as well as the offense, court, and date of conviction or adjudication.

Gangs and Schools (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 18.2-46.3:3. Enhanced Punishment for Gang Activity Taking Place in a Gang-Free Zone; Penalties

Any person who violates § 18.2-46.2 (i) upon the property, including buildings and grounds, of any public or private elementary, secondary, or postsecondary school, or any public or private two-year or four-year institution of higher education; (ii) upon public property or any property open to public use within 1,000 feet of such school property; (iii) on any school bus as defined in § 46.2-100; or (iv) upon the property, including buildings and grounds, of any publicly owned or operated community center or any publicly owned or operated recreation center is guilty of a felony punishable as specified in § 18.2-46.2, and shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years to be served consecutively with any other sentence. A person who violates subsection A of § 18.2-46.3 upon any property listed in this section is guilty of a Class 6 felony, except that any person 18 years of age or older who violates subsection A of § 18.2-46.3 upon any property listed in this section, when such offense is committed against a juvenile, is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Any person who violates subsection B of § 18.2-46.3 upon any property listed in this section is guilty of a Class 5 felony. It is a violation of this section if the person violated § 18.2-46.2 or 18.2-46.3 on the property described in clauses (i) through (iii) regardless of where the person intended to commit such violation.

Virginia § 19.2-83.1. Report of Arrest of School Employees and Adult Students for Certain Offenses

A. Every state official or agency and every sheriff, police officer, or other local law-enforcement officer or conservator of the peace having the power to arrest for a felony, upon arresting a person who is known or discovered by the arresting official to be a full-time, part-time, permanent, or temporary teacher or other employee in any public school division in this Commonwealth for a felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor or an equivalent offense in another state shall file a report of such arrest with the division superintendent of the employing division as soon as practicable. The contents of the report required pursuant to this section shall be utilized by the local school division solely to implement the provisions of subsection B of § 22.1-296.2 and § 22.1-315.

B. Every state official or agency and every sheriff, police officer, or other local law-enforcement officer or conservator of the peace having the power to arrest for a felony, shall file a report, as soon as practicable, with the division superintendent of the school division in which the student is enrolled upon arresting a person who is known or discovered by the arresting official to be a student age 18 or older in any public school division in this Commonwealth for:
. . .
10. Prohibited criminal street gang activity pursuant to § 18.2-46.2; or

11. Recruitment of juveniles for criminal street gang pursuant to § 18.2-46.3.

Virginia § 22.1-199.5. After School Programs for At-Risk Students

A local school board may establish after school programs designed to prevent at-risk youth from engaging in illegal or gang-related activities for school aged children.

Local funds appropriated for K through 12 education may be used to support such after-school programs.

Graffiti (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 15.2-1812.2. Willful and Malicious Damage to or Defacement of Public or Private Facilities; Penalty

A. Any locality may by ordinance make unlawful the willful and malicious damage to or defacement of any public buildings, facilities and personal property or of any private buildings, facilities, and personal property. The penalty for violation of such ordinance is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment for any such violation in which the defacement is (i) more than 20 feet off the ground, (ii) on a railroad or highway overpass, or (iii) committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, as that term is defined by § 18.2-46.1, shall include a mandatory minimum fine of $ 500.

Juvenile Gang Members (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 16.1-269.2. Admissibility of Statement; Investigation and Report; Bail

B. Prior to a transfer hearing pursuant to subsection A of Section 16.1-269.1, a study and report to the court, in writing, relevant to the factors set out in subdivision A 4 of Section 16.1-269.1, as well as an assessment of any affiliation with a youth gang as defined in Section 16.1-299.2, shall be made by the probation services or other qualified agency designated by the court. Counsel for the juvenile and the attorney for the Commonwealth shall have full access to the study and report and any other report or data concerning the juvenile which are available to the court. The court shall not consider the report until a finding has been made concerning probable cause. If the court so orders, the study and report may be expanded to include matters provided for in Section 16.1-273, whereupon it may also serve as the report required by this subsection, but on the condition that it will not be submitted to the judge who will preside at any subsequent hearings except as provided for by law.

C. After the completion of the hearing, whether or not the juvenile court decides to retain jurisdiction over the juvenile or transfer such juvenile for criminal proceedings in the circuit court, the juvenile court shall set bail for the juvenile in accordance with Chapter 9 (Section 19.2-119 et seq.) of Title 19.2, if bail has not already been set.

Virginia § 66-3.2. Additional Duties of the Director

A. The Director shall coordinate with the Department of Corrections the development and submission of requests for compensation from the United States Department of Justice State Criminal Alien Assistance Program for costs associated with incarcerating undocumented aliens.

B. The Director shall forward to the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council, updated on a monthly basis, a list of all juveniles, 14 years of age or older, who (i) have been committed to the Department, (ii) have been found guilty of a felony offense defined as a predicate criminal act under § 18.2-46.1, or have been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of an act that would be a felony and a predicate criminal act under § 18.2-46.1 if committed by an adult, and (iii) have been identified as belonging to a criminal gang. The list shall contain identifying information for each gang member, as well as the offense, court, and date of conviction or adjudication.

Public Nuisance/Premises Used by Gangs (view all states for this subject)

Virginia § 48-7. Houses and Contents Are Nuisances Subject to Abatement

Any person who shall knowingly erect, establish, continue, maintain, use, own, occupy, or lease any building, erection, place, or area used for the purpose of lewdness, assignation, prostitution, or activities of a criminal street gang, as criminal street gang is defined in § 18.2-46.1 in the Commonwealth is guilty of a nuisance, and the building, erection, place, or area, the ground itself, in or upon which such lewdness, assignation, prostitution, or criminal street gang activity is conducted, permitted, or carried on, continued, or exists, and the furniture, fixtures, musical instruments, and contents are also declared a nuisance, and shall be enjoined and abated as hereinafter provided.

Virginia § 48-8. How Nuisance Enjoined

Whenever a nuisance is kept, maintained, or exists as defined in § 48-7, the attorney for the Commonwealth or the Attorney General of the Commonwealth, or, with the exception of a suit brought against a criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1, any responsible citizen of the Commonwealth, may maintain a suit in equity in the name of the Commonwealth, upon the relation of such attorney for the Commonwealth, Attorney General, or citizen, to perpetually enjoin such nuisance, the person or persons conducting or maintaining the same, and the owner or agent of the building or ground upon which such nuisance exists. In such suit the court, or a judge in vacation, shall, upon the presentation of a bill therefor alleging that the nuisance complained of exists, and sworn to by two reputable citizens, allow a temporary writ of injunction, without bond, if it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction of the court or judge by evidence in the form of affidavits, depositions, oral testimony, or otherwise as the complainant may elect, that the nuisance complained of exists, unless the court or judge by previous order shall have directed the form and manner in which the evidence shall be presented. Three days' notice, in writing, shall be given the defendant of the hearing of the application, and if then continued at his instance the writ as prayed shall be granted as a matter of course. A suit brought to enjoin criminal street gang activity may be brought against the criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1, as an unincorporated association and in the name by which it is commonly known.

Virginia § 48-9. When Case to Be Tried; Dismissal; Substitution of Complainant; Costs

The suit when ready for hearing shall be tried at the first term of court, unless good cause for a continuance shall be shown, and in such suit oral evidence given in court of the general reputation of the place or criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1 shall be admissible for the purpose of proving or tending to prove the existence of such nuisance. If the complaint is filed by a citizen, it shall not be dismissed by him before final hearing, except upon a sworn statement made by the complainant and his attorney, setting forth the reasons why the action should be dismissed, and the dismissal approved by the attorney for the Commonwealth, or the Attorney General of the Commonwealth, in writing or in open court. In any case, if the court is of the opinion that the suit ought not to be dismissed, it may direct the attorney for the Commonwealth to prosecute it to judgment; and if the suit is continued more than one term of court, any citizen or the attorney for the Commonwealth may be substituted for the complaining party and prosecute such suit to judgment. If the suit is brought by a citizen, and the court finds there was no reasonable ground or cause for said suit, the costs may be taxed against such citizen.


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