“You should stop writing about people not obeying the law,” said a man who stopped by my table over breakfast at the Blue Ridge Cafe recently. “Most of us are law-abiding citizens.”
I thanked him for his comments and wrote down his name. Later that day, I ran his record through the various databases that show who is or is not convicted of crimes.
His name showed a suspended license for too many speeding violations, two expired registration arrests, driving without a valid driver’s license and two convictions, along with a guilty plea, for domestic abuse.
That’s law-abiding? I ran into him a few days later and asked about his record.
He responded angrily: “Who gave you the right to look up my record.”
“At least a couple of constitutional amendments,” I responded. It is public record.
“Well, traffic tickets aren’t really breaking the law,” he said.
“What about the domestic abuse.”
“An argument that didn’t got out of hand. No big deal.”
That “no big deal” keeps him from owning or possession either a firearm or even ammunition in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He broke the law. He admitted breaking the law by pleading guilty and he must live with the consequences.
On an average Thursday in General District Court in Floyd County, a judge will see an average of 70-75 cases. The court is held weekly, which means about 3900 cases a year come to that one court.
Circuit Court, which deals mostly with felonies, has 20 or more cases on the docket each Tuesday, adding another 1,000 to the list.
Nealy 5,000 criminal cases in a rural county of about 16,500 residents? While some of those cases may involve out-of-country residents who came in Floyd to commit crimes, we also find Floyd Countians appear in courts in Patrick, Franklin, Carroll, Montgomery and Roanoke counties and other jurisdictions.
Often, my stories on what happens in Floyd County Circuit Court, leads the stories on Page One of The Floyd Press. Some of the more interesting ones also end up in The Roanoke Times or elsewhere.
Recent court cases range from writing bad checks to murder. Some defendants have stolen money to pay for drugs. Too many assault family members or abuse spouses. Many appear because they are addicted to drugs ranging from prescribed painkillers to highly addictive crystal methamphetamine.
Some end up before a judge because they illegally dumped furniture, mattresses or even a porcelain toilet at a dumpster site.
On Thursday, 24 of the 77 cases scheduled for hearings in General District Court involve speeding, 13 of them for driving at 70 miles per hour or more on one of Floyd’s two lane roads.
On Tuesday, a convicted sexual offender charged with entering school property, carnal knowledge and indecent liberties, faces trial in Circuit Court. Derick Yates is listed on the Virginia Sexual Offender Database for a 2013 conviction for taking indecent liberties with children in Wythe County.
At the present time, 35 residents of Floyd County also appear on the Virginia Sex offender database. Some Floyd Countians have moved out of the county but their names come up in whichever county or state they might live in now.
Some recently convicted sexual offenders aren’t on the database yet. They must register within certain times or they might be back before the judge.
Sexual offenders aren’t just men. Two women in Floyd County share the list with the 33 men. One sexual molested a child under age 16 in 1999 and the other attempted sex with a child under 16 and took indecent liberties with that child in 2015.
Want to know more? Check the Virginia list by clicking here. You might be surprised and/or know some on the list. I went to Floyd County High School with one of the offenders shown there and knew the businessman convicted of possession of child pornography in 2014.