Legal Information: Virgin Islands, U.S.

Statutes: Virgin Islands, U.S.

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Statutes: Virgin Islands, U.S.

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Current through Act 8009 of the 32nd Legislature, including all code changes through August 23, 2017. Please check here to make sure there have been no changes since this time. 

Title 5. Judicial Procedure

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Subtitle 1. Civil Procedure

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Part IV. Judgment

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Chapter 47. Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic-Violence Protection Orders

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

583. Enforcement

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A person authorized by the law of this State to seek enforcement of a protection order may seek enforcement of a valid foreign protection order in a tribunal of this State. The tribunal shall enforce the terms of the order, including terms that provide relief that a tribunal of this State would lack power to provide but for this section. The tribunal shall enforce the order, whether the order was obtained by independent action or in another proceeding, if it is an order issued in response to a complaint, petition, or motion filed by or on behalf of an individual seeking protection. In a proceeding to enforce a foreign protection order, the tribunal shall follow the procedures of this State for the enforcement of protection orders.

(b) A tribunal of this State may not enforce a foreign protection order issued by a tribunal of a State that does not recognize the standing of a protected individual to seek enforcement of the order.

(c) A tribunal of this State shall enforce the provisions of a valid foreign protection order which govern custody and visitation, if the order was issued in accordance with the jurisdictional requirements governing the issuance of custody and visitation orders in the issuing State.

(d) A foreign protection order is valid if it:

(1) identifies the protected individual and the respondent;

(2) is currently in effect;

(3) was issued by a tribunal that had jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter under the law of the issuing State; and

(4) was issued after the respondent was given reasonable notice and had an opportunity to be heard before the tribunal issued the order or, in the case of an order ex parte, the respondent was given notice and has had or will have an opportunity to be heard within a reasonable time after the order was issued, in a manner consistent with the rights of the respondent to due process.

(e) A foreign protection order valid on its face is prima facie evidence of its validity.

(f) Absence of any of the criteria for validity of a foreign protection order is an affirmative defense in an action seeking enforcement of the order.

(g) A tribunal of this State may enforce provisions of a mutual foreign protection order which favor a respondent only if:

(1) the respondent filed a written pleading seeking a protection order from the tribunal of the issuing State; and

(2) the tribunal of the issuing State made specific findings in favor of the respondent.

585. Registration

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Any individual may register a foreign protection order in this State. To register a foreign protection order, an individual shall:

(1) present a certified copy of the order to the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court; or

(2) present a certified copy of the order to Office of the Attorney General and request that the order be registered with the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court.

(b) Upon receipt of a foreign protection order, the Office of the Attorney General shall register the order in accordance with this section. After the order is registered, the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court shall furnish to the individual registering the order a certified copy of the registered order.

(c) The Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court shall register an order upon presentation of a copy of a protection order which has been certified by the issuing State. A registered foreign protection order that is inaccurate or is not currently in effect must be corrected or removed from the registry in accordance with the law of this State.

(d) An individual registering a foreign protection order shall file an affidavit by the protected individual stating that, to the best of the protected individual's knowledge, the order is currently in effect.

(e) A foreign protection order registered under this chapter may be entered in any existing state or federal registry of protection orders, in accordance with applicable law.

(f) A fee may not be charged for the registration of a foreign protection order under this chapter.

Part VI. Particular Actions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Chapter 101. Civil Procedure for Victims of Stalking

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

1471. Short title and declaration of purpose

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) This chapter may be cited as ‘The Virgin Islands Civil Procedure f or Victims of Stalking Act‘and its general purposes are to:

(1) Assure that victims of stalking are granted the maximum protection from abuse that the law can provide;

(2) Create a flexible and speedy remedy to discourage violence and harassment against individuals who are not related to the alleged perpetrator or others with whom the perpetrator has continuing contact;

(3) Expand the ability of the Virgin Islands Police Department and law enforcement officers to assist victims, to enforce the law effectively in cases of stalking, and to prevent further incidents of abuse;

(4) Develop a greater understanding within the Virgin Islands community of the incidences and causes of stalking;

(5) Facilitate equal enforcement of the criminal laws of the Territory by deterring and punishing violence against individuals who are not personally involved with the offenders; and

(6) Recognize that stalking is a serious crime that adversely affects its victims and which will no longer be excused or tolerated.

(b) This chapter must be liberally construed to protect all victims of stalking and to ensure that they receive equal access to judicial protection.

1472. Definitions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

As used in this chapter:

(1) ‘Stalking‘means purposely and repeatedly following another pers on and engaging in a course of conduct or making a credible threat with the intent of annoying or placing that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm or injury and causing emotional distress.

(2) ‘Credible threat‘means an explicit or implicit threat made with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out the threat, so as to cause the targeted person to reasonably fear for personal safety or the safety of a family member.

(3) ‘Course of conduct‘means an act that happens more than once, ho wever brief, within a year, directed at a specific person, evidencing a continuity of purpose which would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; which includes but is not limited to the stalker ?s directly or indirectly, by any action, method or device, following, monitoring, observing, pursuing, threatening, or communicating to, or about a person, or interfering with a person ?s property.

(4) ‘Harassment‘means engaging in a knowing and intentional course of conduct directed at a specific person which alarms annoys torments or terrorizes the person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress.

(5) ‘cyberstalk‘means to communicate, or to cause to be communicate d, words, images, or language through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication directed to a specific person which serves no legitimate purpose, but causes that person substantial emotional distress.

1473. Procedural requirements

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) An adult person who is a victim of stalking may seek relief under this chapter by filing with the Magistrate Division of the Superior Court a verified petition on a form provided by the court w. A verified petition must allege sufficient facts to establish the following:

(1) The name of the stalking victim;

(2) The name or physical description of the alleged perpetrator;

(3) The dates on which the alleged stalking behavior occurred; and

(4) The acts that the victim alleges constitute stalking.

(b) A minor who is a stalking victim may have a parent, guardian, or adult residing with the minor file a verified petition on the minor ?s behalf, as prescribed in subsection (a).

(c) Service of process upon the alleged perpetrator must be by personal service.

(d) The victim ?s address and telephone number must remain confidential and may be disclosed only to authorized court or law enforcement personnel.

1474. Hearing, temporary orders

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Prior to a hearing, upon good cause shown, the court on motion of a party may enter such temporary relief orders as it considers necessary.

(b) No later than 10 days after the petition is filed under section 1473, a hearing must be held at which the parties shall have an opportunity to present evidence and testimony. The parties shall have the right to representation by counsel.

(c) If a hearing held pursuant to subsection (b) is continued, the court may extend any temporary orders issued pursuant to subsection (a); however, a continuance may not be longer than 10 days.

1475. Orders, duration of orders and costs

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The Superior Court may issue a protection from stalking order granting any or all of the following relief:

(1) Restraining the defendant or anyone acting on behalf of the defendant from following, harassing by personal, telephonic, or computerized contact, or by any other form of communication with the victim.

(2) Restraining the defendant or anyone acting on behalf of the defendant from abusing, molesting, or interfering with the privacy rights of the victim.

(3) Restraining the defendant or anyone acting on behalf of the defendant from entering upon the victim?s property, residence, or place of employment, or within fifty feet thereof.

(4) Providing any further relief that the court considers necessary based on the facts of the case.

(b) All protection from stalking orders must contain language stating that if the order is violated the violation may constitute stalking pursuant to 14 V.I.C. § 2072 and must remain in effect for a period not to exceed two years o r until amended, modified or dismissed by the court.

(c) Upon motion of the plaintiff demonstrating good cause, the court may extend the order for an additional year.

(d) The court may amend its order at any time upon motion filed by either party.

(e) The court shall assess costs against the defendant and may award attorney fees and monetary compensation to the victim for injuries sustained during the incident to the victim in any case in which the court issues a protection from stalking order pursuant to this chapter. The court may award attorney fees to the defendant in any case in which the court finds that the petition to seek relief was frivolous.

(f) Service of process upon alleged perpetrator must be by personal service.

Subtitle 3. Criminal Procedure

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Part II. Special Proceedings

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Chapter 339. Prevention of Crimes; Security to Keep the Peace; Riots

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Subchapter II. Security to Keep the Peace

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

4008. Security to keep the peace after conviction

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

The court before which any person is convicted of a crime, which by the judgment of such court is punished otherwise than by imprisonment for more than one year, may require such person to enter into an undertaking to keep the peace, as provided in section 4005(a) of this title, for a period not exceeding one year and in default thereof may commit him until the undertaking be given or the period expired.

Title 14. Crimes

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Chapter 13. Assault and Battery

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

292. Assault and battery defined

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Whoever uses any unlawful violence upon the person of another with intent to injure him, whatever be the means or the degree of violence used, commits an assault and battery.

295. Assault in the first degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Whoever

(1) with intent to commit murder, assaults another;

(2) with intent to kill, administers or causes to be administered to another, any poison or other noxious or destructive substance or liquid, and death does not result;

(3) with intent to commit rape, sodomy, mayhem, robbery or larceny, assaults another; or

shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years;

(4) commits an act under paragraphs (1) or (2) or (3) of this section in an act of domestic violence as defined in Title 16 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 2, section 91(b) shall be sentenced to not less than 2 years and not more than 20 years and shall be fined not less than $1,000.

296. Assault in the second degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Whoever willfully

(1) mingles any poison with any food, drink, or medicine, with intent that the same shall be taken by any human being, to his injury; or

(2) poisons any spring, well, or reservoir of water; or

(3) strangle or attempts to strangle any person in an act of domestic violence; or

(4) places or throws, or causes to be placed or thrown, upon the person of another, any vitriol, corrosive acid, pepper, hot water, or chemical of any nature with intent to injure the flesh or disfigure the body or clothes of such person

shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years and if the conviction results from an act of domestic violence, the person shall be fined no less than $1,000 and shall successfully complete certified mandatory Batters Intervention Program.

297. Assault in the third degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Whoever, under circumstances not amounting to an assault in the first or second degree

(1) assaults another person with intent to commit a felony;

(2) assaults another with a deadly weapon;

(3) assaults another with premeditated design and by use of means calculated to inflict great bodily harm;

(4) assaults another and inflicts serious bodily injury upon the person assaulted; or whoever under any circumstances;

(5) [Deleted.]

shall be fined not less than $500 and not more than $3,000 or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.

(b) Whoever, under circumstances not amounting to an assault in the first or second degree assaults a peace officer in the lawful discharge of the duties of his office with a weapon of any kind, if it was known or declared to the defendant that the person assaulted was a peace officer discharging an official duty, shall be fined not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

Chapter 22. Computer Crimes

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

465. Cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment prohibited

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Whoever transmits any communication by computer or other electronic device to any person or causes any person to be contacted for the sole purpose of harassing that person or his or her family is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

(b) For the purpose of this section, ?harassing ?means any knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, or bothers the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose.

(c) The course of conduct must be of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or be in fear of bodily injury.

(d) As used in this section, ?course of conduct ?means a pattern of conduct comprised of a series of acts over a period of time, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of ?course of conduct.?

(e) A second or subsequent conviction under subsection (a) of this section shall be deemed a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, by a fine of not more than six thousand dollars ($6,000), or both.

466. Violation of restraining order

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Whenever there is a restraining order or injunction issued by a court of competent jurisdiction enjoining one person from harassing another person, and the person so enjoined is convicted of the crime as set forth in section 465 for actions against the person protected by the court order or injunction, he or she shall be guilty of a felony which shall be punishable by imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, or by a fine of not more than six thousand dollars ($6,000), or both.

(b) A second or subsequent conviction under subsection (a) of this section shall be punishable by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years, by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.

Chapter 35. Extortion, Oppression, and Threats

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

706. Harassment by telephone, telegraph, or written communication

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Whoever, with intent to harass or alarm another person

(1) communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to harass or alarm; or

(2) makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication, is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.

Chapter 85. Rape and Related Offenses

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

1701. Rape in the first degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Whoever perpetrates an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a person

(1) when through idiocy, imbecility or any unsoundness of mind, either temporary or permanent, the person is incapable of giving consent, or, by reason of mental or physical weakness or immaturity or any bodily ailment, the person does not offer resistance;

(2) when the person's resistance is forcibly overcome;

(3) when the person's resistance is prevented by fear of immediate and great bodily harm which the person has reasonable cause to believe will be inflicted upon the person;

(4) when the person's resistance is prevented by stupor or weakness of mind produced by an intoxicating, narcotic or anaesthetic agent, or when the person is known by the defendant to be in such state of stupor or weakness of mind from any cause; or

(5) when the person is, at the time, unconscious of the nature of the act and this is known to the defendant

is guilty of rape in the first degree and shall be imprisoned not less than 10 years nor more than 30 years. Notwithstanding the provisions of Title 5, chapters 313, 405 and 407, Virgin Islands Code, or any other provision of law, imposition or execution of this ten-year minimum period of incarceration shall not be suspended; neither shall probation, parole, or any other form of release be granted for this minimum period of incarceration.

(b) Whoever is convicted of a second or subsequent offense of rape in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment for life or for any term of years, but not less than 10 years. Notwithstanding the provisions of Title 5, chapters 313, 405 and 407, Virgin Islands Code, or any other provision of law, imposition or execution of the ten-year minimum period of incarceration shall not be suspended; neither shall probation, parole, or any other form of release be granted for this minimum period of incarceration.

(c) Spousal consent shall be an affirmative defense in the event the persons are legally married pursuant to the provisions of title 16, chapter 1 of the Virgin Islands Code.

1702. Rape in the second degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Any person over 18 years of age who perpetrates under circumstances not amounting to rape in the first degree, an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a person who is at least 16 years but less than 18 years of age, and the perpetrator is 5 years or older than the victim, is guilty of rape in the second degree and shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years.

(b) Whoever is convicted of any offense under this section shall receive a psychiatric evaluation and participate in psychosocial counseling.

(c) Spousal consent shall be an affirmative defense in the event the persons are legally married pursuant to the provisions of title 16, chapter 1 of the Virgin Islands Code.

1703. Rape in the third degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Any person under 18 years of age but over 16 years of age who perpetrates an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a person who is under 16 years of age but over 13 years of age, under circumstances not amounting to rape in the first degree, is guilty of rape in the third degree and shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Family Division of the Superior Court pursuant to Title 4, Chapter 11, Virgin Islands Code. In lieu of a term of detention, the court, in its discretion, may recommend appropriate treatment, counseling or family planning.

(b) Spousal consent shall be an affirmative defense in the event the persons are legally married pursuant to the provisions of title 16, chapter 1 of the Virgin Islands Code.

1708. Unlawful sexual contact in the first degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A person who engages in sexual contact with a person

(1) when force or coercion is used to accomplish the sexual contact;

(2) when the other person is under thirteen years of age;

(3) when the other person is under sixteen years of age residing in the same household as the perpetrator, and force, intimidation or the perpetrator's position of authority over the victim is used to accomplish the sexual contact;

(4) when the other person is threatened or placed in fear of imminent and serious bodily injury;

(5) when the other person's ability to consent to or resist the contact has been substantially impaired by an intoxicating, narcotic or anesthetic agent; or

(6) when the other person is unconscious or physically helpless, or that person's mental defect or incapacity is known to the perpetrator is guilty of unlawful sexual contact and shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years.

(b) Spousal consent shall be an affirmative defense in the event the persons are legally married pursuant to the provisions of title 16, chapter 1 of the Virgin Islands Code.

1709. Unlawful sexual contact in the second degree

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A person over eighteen years of age who engages in sexual contact with a person who is over thirteen but under sixteen years of age is guilty of unlawful sexual contact in the second degree and shall be imprisoned not more than 1 year.

(b) Spousal consent shall be an affirmative defense in the event the persons are legally married pursuant to the provisions of title 16, chapter 1 of the Virgin Islands Code.

Chapter 104. Stalking

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

2071. Definitions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

As used in this chapter:

(a) ‘Stalking‘means purposely and repeatedly following another pers on and engaging in a course of conduct or making a credible threat with the intent of annoying or placing that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm or injury and causing emotional distress.

(b) ‘Credible threat‘means an explicit or implicit threat made with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out the threat, so as to cause the targeted person to reasonably fear for personal safety or the safety of a family member.

(c) ‘Course of conduct‘means an act that happens more than once, ho wever brief, within a year, directed at a specific person, evidencing a continuity of purpose which would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; which includes but is not limited to the stalker?s directly or i ndirectly, by any action, method or device, following, monitoring, observing, pursuing, threatening or communicating to or about a person or interfering with a person?s property.

(d) ‘Harassment‘means engaging in a knowing and intentional course of conduct directed at a specific person which alarms annoys torments or terrorizes the person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress.

(e) ‘cyberstalk‘means to communicate, or to cause to be communicate d, words, images, or language through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication directed to a specific person which serves no legitimate purpose, but causes that person substantial emotional distress.

2072. Stalking prohibited; degrees of offense; punishment

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A person is guilty of the crime of stalking who purposely and repeatedly follows another person and engages in a course of conduct or makes a credible threat with the intent of annoying or placing that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm or injury. Any person convicted of the crime of stalking shall be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 18 months, or may be fined up to $7,500, or both.

(b) A person who commits a second or subsequent offense of stalking shall be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 5 years, or may be fined up to $15,000, or both and shall be required to obtain psychological or emotional assistance as determined by the court. Provided, however, a person who is convicted of a third or subsequent offense, shall be imprisoned for not less than one month and not more than 5 years, or may be fined up to $15,000, or both.

(c) A person is guilty of the crime of aggravated stalking who commits the crime of stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting the behavior and shall be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 5 years, or may be fined up to $15,000, or both.

(d) A person is guilty of the crime of aggravated stalking who commits the crime of stalking which involves a crime of violence as defined in Title 23, section 451, subsection (e) of this code and shall be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 5 years, or may be fined up to $15,000, or both.

(e) The provisions of this section shall not apply to conduct which occurs during organized group picketing.

Chapter 110. Theft

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Subchapter I. Identity Theft

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

2202. Identity theft

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A person commits the offense of identity theft when he or she knowingly:

(1) uses any personal identifying information or personal identification document of another person to obtain credit, money, goods, services, or other property fraudulently, or

(2) uses any personal identification information or personal identification document of another with intent to commit any felony theft or other felony violation of the laws of the Virgin Islands not set forth in paragraph (1) of this subsection (a), or

(3) obtains, records, possesses, sells, transfers, purchases, or manufactures any personal identification information or personal identification document of another with intent to commit or to aid or abet another in committing any felony theft or other felony violation of the laws of the Virgin Islands, or

(4) uses, obtains, records, possesses, sells, transfers, purchases, or manufactures any personal identification information or personal identification document of another knowing that such personal identification information or personal identification documents were stolen or produced without lawful authority, or

(5) uses, transfers, or possesses document-making implements to produce false identification or false documents with knowledge that they will be used by the person or another to commit any felony theft or other felony violation of law.

(b) Knowledge shall be determined by an evaluation of all circumstances surrounding the use of the other person's identifying information or document.

(c) When a charge of identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding a specified value is brought, the value of the credit, money, goods, services, or other property is an element of the offense to be resolved by the trier of fact as either exceeding or not exceeding the specified value.

(d) Sentence. (1) A person convicted of identity theft in violation of paragraph (1) of subsection (a) shall be sentenced as follows:

(A) identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property not exceeding $300 in value is a misdemeanor. A person who has been previously convicted of identity theft of less than $300 who is convicted of a second or subsequent offense of identity theft of less than $300 is guilty of a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 1 year and not more than 4 years. A person who has been convicted of identity theft of less than $300 who has been previously convicted of any type of theft, robbery, armed robbery, burglary, residential burglary, possession of burglary tools, home invasion, home repair fraud, aggravated home repair fraud, or financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person is guilty of a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 1 year and not more than 4 years. When a person has any such prior conviction, the information or indictment charging that person shall state the prior conviction so as to give notice of the Government's intention to treat the charge as a felony. The fact of the prior conviction is not an element of the offense and may not be disclosed to the jury during trial unless otherwise permitted by issues properly raised during the trial.

(B) Identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding $300 and not exceeding $2,000 in value is a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 1 year and not more than 4 years.

(C) Identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding $2,000 and not exceeding $10,000 in value is a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 years and not more than 5 years.

(D) Identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding $10,000 and not exceeding $100,000 in value is a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 3 years and not more than 7 years.

(E) Identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding $100,000 in value is a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 4 years and not exceeding 15 years.

(2) A person convicted of any offense enumerated in paragraphs (2) through (5) of subsection (a) is guilty of a felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 1 year and not more than 4 years.

(3) A person convicted of any offense enumerated in paragraphs (2) through (5) of subsection (a) a second or subsequent time is guilty of a felony that is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 years and not exceeding 5 years.

(4) A person who, within a 12 twelve month period, is found in violation of any offense enumerated in paragraphs (2) through (5) of subsection (a) with respect to the identifiers of 3 or more separate individuals, at the same time or consecutively, is guilty of a felony that is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 years and not exceeding 5 years.

Title 16. Domestic Relations

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Chapter 2. Remedies for Domestic Violence

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

90. Declaration of purpose

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The general purposes of this chapter are to:

(1) Assure victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse that the law can provide;
(2) Create a flexible and speedy remedy to discourage violence and harassment against family members or others with whom the perpetrator has continuing contact;
(3) Expand the ability of the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department and law enforcement officers to assist victims, to enforce the law effectively in cases of domestic violence, and to prevent further incidents of abuse;
(4) Develop a greater understanding within the United States Virgin Islands community of the incidences and causes of domestic violence through data collection;
(5) Facilitate equal enforcement of the criminal laws of the Territory by deterring and punishing violence against family members and others who are personally involved with the offenders; and
(6) Recognize that battering is a serious crime which will no longer be excused or tolerated.

(b) This chapter shall be liberally construed to promote the general purpose stated in this section.

.

91. Definitions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(a) "Cohabitants" means emancipated minors or persons 18 years of age or older of the opposite sex who have resided together or who currently are residing in the same living quarters or persons who together are the parents of one or more children, regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time.

(b) "Domestic violence" means the occurrence of any of the following acts, attempts or threats against a person who may be protected under this chapter pursuant to subsection (c) of this section:

(1) Assault;
(2) Battery;
(3) Burglary;
(4) Kidnapping;
(5) Unlawful sexual contact;
(6) Rape;
(7) Forcible or unlawful entry;
(8) Coercion;
(9) Destruction of property;
(10) Harassment;
(11) Threats;
(12) False imprisonment; or
(13) Stalking.
(14) Violation of a restraining order issued pursuant to section 97(b)(2) or section 98 of this chapter.

(c) "Victim" includes any person who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, parent, child, or any other person related by blood or marriage, a present or former household member, a person with whom the victim has a child in common, or a person who is, or has been, in a sexual or otherwise intimate relationship with the victim.

(d) "Coercion" means compelling another by force, or threat of force, to engage in conduct from which the latter has a right to abstain, or to abstain from conduct in which the person has a right to engage.

(e) "Destruction of property" means causing damage to the property of another, or to property jointly owned by the perpetrator and another.

(f) "Harassment" means engaging in a purposeful, knowing or reckless course of conduct involving more than one incident that alarms, or causes distress to another person and serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer distress and must actually cause distress. Such conduct shall include, but shall not be limited to:

(1) following another about in a public place or places with the intent to distress or intimidate the victim;
(2) peering in the window, or trespassing or coming upon or about the premises of the victim so as to intrude on privacy or create a menacing or threatening situation.

91a. Duties of police officers

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department, or other law enforcement agencies, upon request to the Department or other enforcement agency, shall respond to every request for assistance or protection, from or on behalf of a victim of alleged domestic violence, whether or not an order has been issued against the alleged abuser.

(b) A lower priority shall not be assigned to calls involving alleged incidents of abuse or violations of orders relative to domestic violence than is assigned in responding to like offenses involving strangers. Existence of any of the following factors shall be interpreted by police dispatchers as indicating a need for immediate response:

(1) The caller indicates that violence is imminent or is in progress;
(2) An order relative to domestic violence is in effect; or
(3) The caller indicates that incidents of domestic violence have occurred previously between the parties.

(c) If the police or other law enforcement officer has reason to believe that a person is a victim of domestic violence, the officer shall use all reasonable means to prevent further domestic violence and to ensure the victim's safety including:

(1) exercising arrest powers pursuant to section 94 of this chapter;
(2) attempting to persuade the offender to leave the household if there is not probable cause to make an arrest and the victim perceives continuing danger;
(3) filling out and filing a domestic violence report as provided by section 93 of this chapter;
(4) interviewing the parties and children in separate rooms to ensure that the victim, as well as the children, have an opportunity to speak freely;
(5) providing or arranging for transportation for the victim to a safe place or shelter, if such transportation is desired;
(6) interviewing the children regarding the facts of the assault;
(7) providing or arranging transportation for the victim to the nearest hospital or medical facility for treatment of injuries, if such treatment is needed or desired;
(8) reading to the victim, the oral statement of rights as provided under section 92 of this chapter and written information about the nearest shelter or other agency providing service to victims of domestic violence;
(9) advising the victim of the importance of preserving evidence and of the types of evidence that should be preserved;
(10) taking photographs of any visible injuries or property damage whenever necessary or appropriate;
(11) remaining on the scene of an incident of domestic violence as long as the victim remains in danger;
(12) accompanying the victim to a previous residence to remove personal belongings; and
(13) supervising the court ordered removal of an abuser from a residence shared with a victim.

92. Statement of rights

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

In giving notice to a victim of the victim's rights as provided in section 91a, subsection (c), paragraph (8) of this chapter, the officer shall read the following statement aloud and provide the victim with a card bearing the same information written in both English and Spanish:

"My name is Officer ____________; my badge number is ________. The law requires that I offer the following services to persons such as yourself who are victims of domestic violence:

(a) If a crime has been committed against you, I must arrest the suspect immediately, or I must remove the suspect from the household or try to persuade him to leave the household;
(b) I must drive you or help you find transportation to the nearest hospital or medical facility for treatment of injuries if you need or want treatment;
(c) If you want to leave the residence, I must drive you or help you find transportation to the nearest shelter for victims of domestic violence, or to any other nearby place where your safety will be assured; and
(d) I must make all reasonable efforts to make sure that you are safe."

In addition, the officer shall give the victim a written copy of the following statement in English and Spanish:

"(a) The law provides that you may seek a court order prohibiting further abuse of yourself, your children, or anyone in your household, if you are affected by the abuse, or if the victim is unable to seek help. You do not need to hire a lawyer to get a court order.
(b) The court order may order the person who abused you to move out of the residence where you live, to pay your rent there or elsewhere, or to pay support for you or your children. The court may give you custody of your children. It may order the abuser to stay away from your children. It may order the abuser to stay away from your workplace, or other places where you frequent. The order may restrain the abuser from calling you or writing you letters. It may order the abuser to pay your medical bills or to participate in counseling. You may request any or all of these things, or ask for other protection, as part of a court order.
(c) To get a court order, go to Territorial Court, which is located at ____________. Ask the Clerk of the Court for complaint forms. If you are in immediate danger you usually can get an order the day you file the petition.
(d) If the person who assaulted you violates this order, that person may be arrested and punished or may be required to remedy the violation.
(e) You also have the right to request that the prosecutor file a criminal complaint against the person who assaulted you. If convicted of a crime, the abuser may be placed on probation and ordered to see a counselor, or the abuser may be put in jail or fined.
(f) On nights, weekends, and holidays, when the courts are closed, you may obtain emergency assistance by calling the police or by calling ____________ to find a judge."

93. Domestic Violence Report

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) It shall be the duty of a police officer, or other peace officer, who responds to a domestic violence call to complete a Domestic Violence Report, which shall be made part of and attached to the Report of Crime Against Person or Property, and to forward a copy of the entire report to the Department of Justice and the Clerk of the Court of the Family Division of the Territorial Court within five (5) days of the alleged incident.

(b) The Domestic Violence Report shall be on a form prescribed by the Police Commissioner which shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) The relationship of the parties;
(2) The sex of the parties;
(3) The time and date the complaint was received;
(4) The time the officer began investigation of the complaint;
(5) Whether children were involved, or whether the alleged act of domestic violence had been committed in the presence of children;
(6) The type and extent of abuse;
(7) The number and type of weapons involved;
(8) The amount of time involved in handling the case and the action taken by the police officer;
(9) The effective date and terms of an Order issued pursuant to this chapter concerning the parties; and
(10) Any other data that may be necessary for a complete analysis of all circumstances leading to the alleged incident of domestic violence.

(c) It shall be the duty of the Police Commissioner to compile and report annually to the Governor and the Legislature on the data tabulated from the Domestic Violence Reports. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) The total number of domestic violence calls received;
(2) The number of calls made by victims of each sex;
(3) The number of domestic violence calls investigated;
(4) The average time-lapse in responding to these calls;
(5) The types of police actions taken in disposition of these cases, including the number of arrests.

(d) The Police Commissioner shall establish procedures to insure that dispatchers and officers at the scene of an alleged incident of domestic violence are informed of any verified Order issued pursuant to this chapter and in force concerning the parties, or of any prior recorded incident of domestic violence involving the parties.

(e) The Police Commissioner shall establish, within the Virgin Islands Police Department, a Domestic Violence Unit which will be responsible for insuring that all incidences of domestic violence are properly prosecuted and that the provisions of this chapter are strictly adhered to.

(f) The Clerk of the Court of the Family Division of the Territorial Court shall forward certified copies of all protective orders to all police zone commands within the island on which the victim resides within one business day of issuance of the order.

94. Arrest powers

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A police officer, or other peace officer, shall make an arrest without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that a misdemeanor or felony involving domestic violence, as defined by section 91 of this chapter, has been committed by the suspect in violation of a court order or any criminal statute of this Territory.

(b) Any clear and specific written statement by a person alleging that he witnessed the suspect commit an act of domestic violence against another constitutes probable cause for an officer to believe that the offense was committed and probable cause to believe that the suspect committed the offense.

(c) In the absence of a statement, as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the officer shall consider the following factors in determining whether probable cause exists:

(1) whether a victim or a witness alleges that an incident of domestic violence occurred;
(2) whether there are visible injuries, torn clothing, disruption of physical surroundings, or other physical evidence of domestic violence; and
(3) whether the dispatcher indicated a report of imminent violence or violence in progress.

(d) Arrests pursuant to this section shall be made whether or not the offense was committed in the presence of the officer.

(e) The existence of any of the following circumstances shall not be considered in any determination of probable cause to believe that a crime was committed by a person alleged to have committed it:

(1) The victim knows the accused;
(2) The victim has not made efforts to obtain a divorce, or a protective order, or to flee the residence;
(3) The officer believes that the victim will not pursue criminal prosecution, or that the prosecutor will refuse to file charges based on the alleged incident;
(4) The officer believes that reconciliation is preferable to arrest;
(5) There are no witnesses to the incident;
(6) The suspect is not in an agitated or argumentative state;
(7) The victim has called the police on previous occasions; or
(8) The parties have reconciled despite previous domestic violence or issuance of a restraining order.

95. Limitations on liability

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Law enforcement agencies and peace officers shall not be liable for personal injury or property damage which occurs in the course of any good-faith effort to protect a victim of domestic violence, including, but not limited to, action taken during the course of an arrest, an attempt to separate two parties or to enforce a court order, or action taken during the transportation of the victim to a shelter, hospital, or other safe place.

96. Complaints

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A victim may file a complaint alleging the commission of an act of domestic violence with the Family Division of the Territorial Court. The complaint may be filed in any judicial division where:

(1) the plaintiff resides;
(2) the defendant resides;
(3) the alleged abuse occurred; or
(4) the plaintiff is temporarily located if she has left her residence to avoid further abuse.

(b) The Court in domestic violence actions shall not dismiss any complaint or delay disposition of a case because of the concurrent dissolution of a marriage, other civil proceedings, or because the victim has left the residence to avoid further incidents of domestic violence. Filing a complaint pursuant to this section shall not prevent the filing of a criminal complaint for the same act.

(c) The Court shall waive any requirement that the petitioner's place of residence appear on the complaint.

(d) The Clerk of the Court, or other person designated by the Court, shall assist the parties in completing any forms necessary for the filing of a summons, complaint, answer or other pleading.

(e) Summons and complaint forms shall be readily available at the Clerk's Office of the Family Division of the Territorial Court.

(f) All pleadings, process, and other Orders filed pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon the defendant in accordance with the rules of the Court. If personal service cannot be effected upon the defendant, the Court may order other appropriate substitute service.

97. Hearing; relief

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A hearing shall be scheduled in Court within 10 days of filing a complaint, provided that the defendant has received notice of the Court proceedings. At the hearing the standard for proving the allegations in the complaint shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.

(b) At the hearing the Court may issue an Order granting any or all of the following relief:

(1) An Order prohibiting the defendant from subjecting the plaintiff to domestic violence, as defined in section 91(b).
(2) An Order prohibiting the defendant from having contact with the plaintiff, including, but not limited to, restraining the defendant from entering the plaintiff's residence, place of employment or business, or school. The Court shall prohibit the defendant from harassing the plaintiff or the plaintiff's relatives in any way.
(3) An Order granting possession of the residence to the plaintiff and excluding the defendant when the residence or household is jointly owned or leased by the parties. No Order shall affect any interest in the residence held by either party, but the Court may prohibit the defendant from transferring, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of specified property mutually owned or leased by the parties. Sole ownership in the name of the defendant of the real property constituting the residence of the parties shall not bar the Court from issuing an Order restraining the defendant from entering the residence. When the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff or minor children living in the residence or household and the defendant is sole owner or lessee of the residence, an Order granting possession of the residence or household to the plaintiff and excluding the defendant may be issued or, upon consent of the parties, the defendant may be allowed to provide suitable, alternate housing for the plaintiff. The Court may amend its Order at any time upon petition by either party. Upon the issuance of an Order pursuant to the aforesaid paragraph, the Court may order a police officer or marshal to accompany either party to the residence to supervise the removal of personal belongings in order to insure the safety of the plaintiff.
(4) An Order determining temporary child support or child custody, or establishing visitation rights, provided that these issues have not been resolved nor are being litigated between the parties. The Court may protect the safety of the plaintiff by specifying a place of visitation away from the plaintiff or take any other appropriate precaution necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the plaintiff and minor children.
(5) An Order requiring the defendant to pay monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the act of domestic violence. Compensatory losses shall include, but not be limited to, loss of earnings or support, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained, moving expenses and reasonable attorney's fees.
(6) An Order granting the plaintiff temporary possession of specified personal property, such as automobiles, checkbooks, keys, and other personal effects.
(7) An Order requiring the defendant to receive professional counseling or other appropriate treatment from either a private source or a source appointed by the Court and, in the Court's discretion, requiring the defendant to provide the Court at specified intervals with documentation of attendance at the professional counseling or treatment center.

(c) Violation of an Order issued pursuant to this chapter shall constitute contempt and each Order shall so state.

(d) Any Order issued under this section shall be effective for a fixed period not to exceed twenty-four months, except that such Order may be extended, renewed, or modified by Order of the Court upon good cause shown.

(e) In addition to any other provision of law, violation of an order issued pursuant to section 97(b)(2) or section 98 of this chapter shall constitute the crime of domestic violence, and whoever willfully violates such an order shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $5,000 and imprisoned for not more than 180 days.

98. Emergency relief

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) In addition to the relief sought in section 97 of this chapter, a plaintiff may seek emergency ex parte relief in the nature of a Temporary Restraining Order. Whenever emergency relief is sought by the plaintiff, the Clerk of the Court, or other person designated by the Court, shall immediately transmit the complaint to the Family Division Judge of the Territorial Court by the close of business on the day relief is sought. When the Family Division is closed, the Territorial Court may arrange for any available judge to grant ex parte relief, upon a showing that dire emergency conditions exist.

(b) Generally, the Court may enter ex parte orders, upon good cause shown, when necessary to protect the life, health or wellbeing of a victim on whose behalf the relief is sought. Emergency relief may constitute all relief available under this chapter, together with any other appropriate relief.

(c) An Order granting emergency relief shall immediately be forwarded to the marshal of the Territorial Court for immediate service upon the defendant. Notice of the Order for emergency relief shall also be sent to the appropriate Chief of Police.

(d) A Temporary Restraining Order shall remain in effect until further action by the Court, but not for more than ten days after it has been issued; Provided, however, That on 24 hours notice to the plaintiff, the defendant may appear and move for its dissolution or modification and, in that event, the Court shall proceed to hear and determine such motion as expeditiously as the ends of justice require.

99. Criminal proceedings

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Duties of the Court in criminal actions for domestic violence:

(a) A person arrested for a crime that constitutes domestic violence must appear before a judge for bail determination. In addition to the other standard factors, a judge shall determine whether to grant bail or to detain the defendant pending trial upon review of the following factors:

(1) the degree of injury to the victim;

(2) the defendant's history of domestic violence as documented by police reports, other credible reports;

(3) the use or threatened use of a weapon;

(4) the potential threat to the alleged victim or other family or household member;

(5) the potential threat to the public; and

(6) the likelihood that the defendant will appear for trial.

(b) A person arrested for or charged with a crime that constitutes domestic violence shall be admitted to bail as follows:

(1) one thousand dollars with no 10% provision, if the defendant has no prior conviction for domestic violence, and the use or threatened use of a weapon was not involved and there is no reason to believe that the crime for which the person was arrested resulted in substantial bodily harm; or

(2) five thousand dollars and no 10% provision, if the person has:

(A) no previous conviction for domestic violence and the use or threatened use of a weapon was not involved, but there is reason to believe that the crime for which the person was arrested resulted in substantial bodily harm; or

(B) one previous conviction for domestic violence, and the use or threatened use of a weapon was not involved, and there is no reason to believe that the crime for which the person was arrested resulted in substantial bodily harm; or

(3) fifteen thousand dollars with no 10% provision, if the person has:

(A) no previous convictions for domestic violence, but the use or threatened use of a weapon was involved; or

(B) one previous conviction for domestic violence and there is reason to believe that the crime for which the defendant was arrested resulted in substantial bodily hue; or

(C) one previous conviction for domestic violence and the use or threatened use of a weapon was involved; or

(D) the defendant has two or more conviction for domestic violence.

(c) When a defendant charged with a crime or offense involving domestic violence is released from custody before trial on bail or personal recognizance, the Court authorizing the release may as a condition of release issue an Order prohibiting the defendant from having any contact with the victim, including, but not limited to, restraining the defendant from entering the victim's residence, place of employment or business, or school, and from harassing the victim or victim's relatives in any way, prohibiting the defendant from using or possessing a firearm or any other weapon, from possessing or consuming any alcohol or controlled substances and by imposing any other order required to protect the safety of the alleged victim or to ensure the defendant's appearance in court. The Clerk of the Court, or other person designated by the court, shall provide a copy of this Order to the victim forthwith.

(d) When a defendant is found guilty of a crime or offense involving domestic violence and a condition of sentence restricts the defendant's ability to have contact with the victim, that condition shall be recorded in an Order of the Court and a written copy of that Order shall be provided to the victim by the Clerk of the Court or other person designated by the Court.

(e) Upon conviction of a crime or offense involving domestic violence, the Court may require, in lieu of or in addition to a term of incarceration, that the defendant receive professional counseling or other appropriate treatment from either a private source or a source appointed by the Court, and the Court shall require the defendant to provide documentation of attendance at the professional counseling or treatment center.

(f) In criminal actions for domestic violence, the prosecuting attorney shall charge in the information that the alleged act is an act of domestic violence.

(g) Upon a conviction for a domestic violence offense the judgment shall so indicate.

(h) In criminal actions for domestic violence, a defendant charged for the first time in the United States Virgin Islands with a misdemeanor domestic violence offense shall have the right, within 30 days of arraignment, to plead guilty and receive the deferred sentence described and set forth in section 99a of this chapter, if such defendant waives in writing any rights he might otherwise have to a speedy disposition of the case at issue, unless the prosecutor or the Court files a written objection. The Court shall notify such defendant of the right to a deferred sentence at the arraignment.

(i) If the prosecutor files a timely written objection, the defendant shall not be entitled to the deferred sentence set forth in section 99a of this chapter. The Court, or prosecutor, shall object if the victim requests. The Court and prosecutor may consider the following factors in determining whether to offer a deferred sentence:

(1) the relative severity of the victim's injuries, if any;

(2) the prior criminal history of the defendant;

(3) the history of previous incidents of domestic violence, if any, as related by the victim;

(4) the degree to which the defendant demonstrates motivation to participate in counseling and to stop acts of domestic violence; and

(5) the availability of a counseling or treatment program willing to accept the defendant, and the intensity of such program.

99a. Deferred sentence and counseling

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The Court shall maintain a record of those charged with a domestic violence offense in the United States Virgin Islands to enable the Court to determine the eligibility of an accused for a domestic violence counseling program.

(b) When a defendant elects to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with a deferred sentence, the Court shall defer sentence for a period not less than six (6) months nor greater than two (2) years, and shall require the defendant to attend, fully participate in, fully cooperate with, and successfully complete a domestic violence counseling or education program during the pendency of the deferred sentence.

(c) Upon notification that the defendant who has previously pleaded guilty under this section has successfully completed the domestic violence education program, the Court shall not impose an incarcerative penalty but may impose other sentencing provisions which the Court might have otherwise imposed had the defendant opted not to proceed under this section including, but not limited to, probation, restitution and continued treatment, or counseling. Upon finding that a defendant has violated probation, the Court shall be empowered to sentence the defendant to any sentence the Court could have imposed had the defendant not opted to proceed under this section.

(d) Upon a finding by the Court that a defendant whose sentence has been deferred under this section has failed to successfully complete a domestic violence counseling or education program, or has committed a domestic violence offense or any felony during the pendency of the deferred sentence, the Court shall sentence the defendant to any term the Court could have imposed had the defendant not chosen to proceed under this section.

(e) In order to qualify for the benefits of this section, a defendant whose sentence has been deferred shall attend, fully participate in, and fully cooperate with all programs or treatment sessions to which the defendant is assigned by the Court. Such programs or treatment sessions shall be prescribed for a qualifying defendant on a weekly basis. The treatment or counseling provider shall report to the Court and the appropriate prosecutor when a defendant successfully completes the Domestic Violence Education Program, and shall immediately report to the Court and the appropriate prosecutor when a defendant fails to attend, fully participate in, fully cooperate with or successfully completes any or all prescribed programs or treatment sessions to which the defendant is assigned.

(f) The defendant shall bear the cost of a Domestic Violence Education Program. The Court may refer the defendant to a program that provides appropriate counseling or education services without charge, if available.

(g) A defendant found eligible for the deferred sentence set forth herein shall have an opportunity to consult with an attorney before entering into a deferred sentence agreement. If a defendant elects to plead guilty and receives a deferred sentence as set forth herein, the defendant shall sign a written agreement under which he shall consent and agree to abide by all terms of a protective order, if appropriate, for the period provided by the agreement consistent with Title 16, section 99a(b) of the Virgin Islands Code. The defendant may also agree to waive any rights he may have to speedy disposition of the case.

(h) The terms and conditions of a deferred sentence shall be designed on an individual basis to provide for the protection of the victim and society and the rehabilitation and education of the defendant through treatment and the prohibition of conduct which could lead to violence.

(i) In referring defendants for counseling, preference shall be given for programs or therapists who focus on terminating violent behavior. The Court shall not refer defendants to couples counseling or to family therapy with their victims.

(j) The prosecutor's office, or the prosecutor's designee, shall collect and retain the following data:

(1) the number of cases screened for diversion;
(2) the number of cases accepted into the diversion program;
(3) a breakdown of the criminal charges which were filed against defendants who were accepted into the programs;
(4) conditions imposed on diverted defendants;
(5) the number of successful completions;
(6) the number of unsuccessful terminations;
(7) the reasons for unsuccessful terminations;
(8) the duration of defendant's participation in the diversion program; and
(9) the disposition of criminal charges and sentence imposed on defendants rejected and on defendants who were terminated from the diversion program. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Probation Office shall monitor the progress of a defendant during the pendency of a deferred sentence and shall immediately report any violations of the conditions thereto to the Court.

99b. Training of police officers

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department shall establish and maintain an education and training program for police officers designed to acquaint them with:

(1) the nature, extent, and causes of domestic violence;
(2) the legal rights of and remedies available to victims of domestic violence;
(3) the services and facilities available to victims and batterers;
(4) the legal duties imposed upon police officers to make arrests and to offer protection and assistance; and
(5) techniques for handling incidents of domestic violence that minimize the likelihood of injury to the officer and promote the safety of the victim.

(b) Training shall stress the enforcement of criminal law in domestic violence cases and the use of community resources. Law enforcement agencies and community organizations shall cooperate in all aspects of the training. Representatives of shelters or other community groups shall be invited to assist in planning and presentation of training.

(c) Basic training completed by police cadets prior to permanent appointment shall include no less than twenty hours of training in responding to domestic violence cases.

(d) Advanced annual twelve-hour in-service training programs for all police officers shall include sessions on responding to domestic violence cases. The primary purpose of these sessions will be to familiarize officers with this chapter, as amended.

Chapter 3. Divorce and Annulment

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

104. Legal separation or dissolution; evidence

Updated: 
April 12, 2018
A decree granting a legal separation or dissolving a marriage may be entered when the court is satisfied from the evidence presented that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the legitimate objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.

106. Divorce; jurisdiction of court

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) In an action for the dissolution of the marriage contract or for a legal separation the plaintiff therein must be an inhabitant of the Virgin Islands who is domiciled therein at the commencement of the action and who has resided therein continuously and uninterruptedly for at least six weeks prior thereto, which residence shall be sufficient to give the court jurisdiction without regard to the place where the marriage was solemnized or the cause of action arose. Evidence of the six weeks residence as aforesaid shall be presumptive proof of domicile.

(b) For the purposes of this section, any person who is serving with the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Air Force or the Merchant Marines, and who was a resident of the Virgin Islands at the time of his entry into military service or the Merchant Marines, shall be deemed to have continuously resided in this territory during the time he is serving with the Armed Forces or Merchant Marines.

108. Interlocutory orders

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

After the commencement of an action, and before a judgment therein, the court may, in its discretion, provide by order-

(1) that a party in need obtain from the other party such funds as may be necessary to enable the party in need to prosecute or defend the action, as the case may be;

(2) for the care, custody, and maintenance of the minor children of the marriage during the pendency of the action; or

(3) for the freedom of the wife from the control of the husband during the pendency of the action and the court may restrain either or both parties from disposing of the property of either party pending the action.

109. Final orders

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Whenever a marriage is declared void or dissolved the court may, without regard to any determination that the breakdown of the marriage was the fault of one party or the other, further decree:
(1) for the future care and custody of minor children of the marriage as it may deem just and proper, having due regard to the age and sex of such children and giving primary consideration to the needs and welfare of such children;
(2) for the recovery from the party not granted care and custody of such children such an amount of money, in gross or in installments, as may be just and proper for such party to contribute toward the nurture and education thereof;
(3) for the recovery for a party determined to be in need thereof an amount of money in gross or in installments, as may be necessary for the support and maintenance of such party;
(4) for the delivery to the wife of her personal property in the possession or control of the husband at the time of giving the judgment;
(5) for the appointment of one or more trustees to collect, receive, expand, manage, or invest, in such manner as the court shall direct, any sum of money necessary for the maintenance of the wife or the nurture and education of minor children committed to her; or
(6) to change the name of the wife.

(b) Determination raises rebuttable presumption that child reside with parent not perpetrator or legal guardian.In determining the future care and custody of minor children under subsection (a), a determination by the court that the domestic violence has occurred raises a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interest of the child to reside with the parent who is not the perpetrator of domestic violence in the location of that parent's choice, within or outside the territory or with a legal guardian. This presumption shall also apply when a parent has been convicted for the death of the other parent, or when the child has been conceived by rape.

(c) Factors court must consider.In addition to the other factors that the court considers in determining the custody of a child or visitation by a parent, and where the court has made a finding of domestic violence, the court shall consider each of the following:
(1) The safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of domestic violence.
(2) The perpetrator's history of causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, to another person.
(3) If a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of domestic violence by the other parent, the absence or relocation may not be a factor that weighs against the parent in determining the custody or visitation.

(d) Visitation by parent who committed violence.
(1) A court may award visitation by a parent who committed domestic violence only if the court finds that adequate provision for the safety of the child and the parent who is a victim of domestic violence can be made. In a visitation order, a court may take any of the following actions:
(A) order an exchange of the child to occur in a protected setting;
(B) order visitation supervised in a manner to be determined by the court:
(C) order the perpetrator of domestic violence to attend and complete to the satisfaction of the court, a program of intervention for perpetrators or other designated counseling as a condition of visitation;
(D) order the perpetrator of domestic violence to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances during the visitation and for 24 hours preceding the visitation;
(E) order the perpetrator of domestic violence to pay a fee to defray the cost of supervised visitation;
(F) Prohibit overnight visitation;
(G) Require a bond from the perpetrator of domestic violence for the return and safety of the child; and
(H) Impose any other condition that is considered necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of domestic violence, or other family or household member.
(2) Whether or not visitation is allowed, the court may order the address of the child or the victim of domestic violence to be kept confidential.
(3) The court may refer, but may not order an adult who is a victim of domestic violence to attend counseling relating to the victim's status or behavior as a victim, individually or with the perpetrator of domestic violence as a condition of receiving custody of a child, or as a condition of visitation.
(4) If a court allows a family or household member to supervise visitation, the court shall establish conditions to be followed during visitation.

(e) Domestic violence defined. For purposes of this section, domestic violence means domestic violence as defined in title 16 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 2, section 91, subsections (b) and (c).

Chapter 4. Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Subchapter 1. General Provisions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

115. Short title

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

This chapter may be cited as the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

116. Definitions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

In this chapter:

(1) 'Abandoned' means left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision.

(2) 'Child' means an individual who has not attained 18 years of age.

(3) 'Child-custody determination' means a judgment, decree, or other order of a court providing for the legal custody, physical custody, or visitation with respect to a child. The term includes a permanent, temporary, initial, and modification order. The term does not include an order relating to child support or other monetary obligation of an individual.

(4) 'Child-custody proceeding' means a proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody, or visitation with respect to a child is an issue. The term includes a proceeding for divorce, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights, and protection from domestic violence, in which the issue may appear. The term does not include a proceeding involving juvenile delinquency, contractual emancipation, or enforcement under subchapter 3.

(5) 'Commencement' means the filing of the first pleading in a proceeding.

(6) 'Court' means an entity authorized under the law of a State to establish, enforce, or modify a child-custody determination.

(7) 'Home State' means the State in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than six months of age, the term means the State in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.

(8) 'Initial determination' means the first child-custody determination concerning a particular child.

(9) 'Issuing court' means the court that makes a child-custody determination for which enforcement is sought under this chapter.

(10) 'Issuing State' means the State in which a child-custody determination is made.

(11) 'Modification' means a child-custody determination that changes, replaces, supersedes, or is otherwise made after a previous determination concerning the same child, whether or not it is made by the court that made the previous determination.

(12) 'Person' means an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, government; governmental subdivision, agency, or instrumentality; public corporation; or any other legal or commercial entity.

(13) 'Person acting as a parent' means a person, other than a parent, who:

(A) has physical custody of the child or has had physical custody for a period of six consecutive months, including any temporary absence, within one year immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding; and

(B) has been awarded legal custody by a court or claims a right to legal custody under the law of this State.

(14) 'Physical custody' means the physical care and supervision of a child.

(15) 'State' means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

(16) 'Tribe' means an Indian tribe or band, or Alaskan Native village, which is recognized by federal law or formally acknowledged by a State.

(17) 'Warrant' means an order issued by a court authorizing law enforcement officers to take physical custody of a child.

117. Proceedings governed by other law

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

This chapter does not govern an adoption proceeding or a proceeding pertaining to the authorization of emergency medical care for a child.

118. Application to Indian tribes

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A child-custody proceeding that pertains to an Indian child as defined in the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., is not subject to this chapter to the extent that it is governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act.

(b) A court of this State shall treat a tribe as if it were a State of the United States for the purpose of applying subchapters 1 and 2.

(c) A child-custody determination made by a tribe under factual circumstances in substantial conformity with the jurisdictional standards of this chapter must be recognized and enforced under subchapter 3.

119. International application of chapter

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State shall treat a foreign country as if it were a State of the United States for the purpose of applying subchapters 1 and 2.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c), a child-custody determination made in a foreign country under factual circumstances in substantial conformity with the jurisdictional standards of this chapter must be recognized and enforced under subchapter 3.

(c) A court of this State need not apply this chapter if the child custody law of a foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.

120. Effect of child-custody determination

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

A child-custody determination made by a court of this State that had jurisdiction under this chapter binds all persons who have been served in accordance with the laws of this State or notified in accordance with § 122 or who have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, and who have been given an opportunity to be heard. As to those persons, the determination is conclusive as to all decided issues of law and fact except to the extent the determination is modified.

121. Priority

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

If a question of existence or exercise of jurisdiction under this chapter is raised in a child-custody proceeding, the question, upon request of a party, must be given priority on the calendar and handled expeditiously.

122. Notice to persons outside state

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Notice required for the exercise of jurisdiction when a person is outside this State may be given in a manner prescribed by the law of this State for service of process or by the law of the State in which the service is made. Notice must be given in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice but may be by publication if other means are not effective.

(b) Proof of service may be made in the manner prescribed by the law of this State or by the law of the State in which the service is made.

(c) Notice is not required for the exercise of jurisdiction with respect to a person who submits to the jurisdiction of the court.

123. Appearance and limited immunity

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A party to a child-custody proceeding, including a modification proceeding, or a petitioner or respondent in a proceeding to enforce or register a child-custody determination, is not subject to personal jurisdiction in this State for another proceeding or purpose solely by reason of having participated, or of having been physically present for the purpose of participating, in the proceeding.

(b) A person who is subject to personal jurisdiction in this State on a basis other than physical presence is not immune from service of process in this State. A party present in this State who is subject to the jurisdiction of another State is not immune from service of process allowable under the laws of that State.

(c) The immunity granted by subsection (a) does not extend to civil litigation based on acts unrelated to the participation in a proceeding under this chapter committed by an individual while present in this State.

124. Communication between courts

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State may communicate with a court in another State concerning a proceeding arising under this chapter.

(b) The court may allow the parties to participate in the communication. If the parties are not able to participate in the communication, they must be given the opportunity to present facts and legal arguments before a decision on jurisdiction is made.

(c) Communication between courts on schedules, calendars, court records, and similar matters may occur without informing the parties. A record need not be made of the communication.

(d) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c), a record must be made of a communication under this section. The parties must be informed promptly of the communication and granted access to the record.

(e) For the purposes of this section, 'record' means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.

125. Taking testimony in another State

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) In addition to other procedures available to a party, a party to a child-custody proceeding may offer testimony of witnesses who are located in another State, including testimony of the parties and the child, by deposition or other means allowable in this State for testimony taken in another State. The court on its own motion may order that the testimony of a person be taken in another State and may prescribe the manner in which and the terms upon which the testimony is taken.

(b) A court of this State may permit an individual residing in another State to be deposed or to testify by telephone, audiovisual means, or other electronic means before a designated court or at another location in that State. A court of this State shall cooperate with courts of other States in designating an appropriate location for the deposition or testimony.

(c) Documentary evidence transmitted from another State to a court of this State by technological means that do not produce an original writing may not be excluded from evidence on an objection based on the means of transmission.

126. Cooperation between courts; preservation of records

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State may request the appropriate court of another State to:

(1) hold an evidentiary hearing;

(2) order a person to produce or give evidence pursuant to procedures of that State;

(3) order that an evaluation be made with respect to the custody of a child involved in a pending proceeding;

(4) forward to the court of this State a certified copy of the transcript of the record of the hearing, the evidence otherwise presented, and any evaluation prepared in compliance with the request; and

(5) order a party to a child-custody proceeding or any person having physical custody of the child to appear in the proceeding with or without the child.

(b) Upon request of a court of another State, a court of this State may hold a hearing or enter an order described in subsection (a).

(c) Travel and other necessary and reasonable expenses incurred under subsections (a) and (b) may be assessed against the parties according to the law of this State.

(d) A court of this State shall preserve the pleadings, orders, decrees, records of hearings, evaluations, and other pertinent records with respect to a child-custody proceeding until the child attains 18 years of age. Upon appropriate request by a court or law enforcement official of another State, the court shall forward a certified copy of those records.

Subchapter 2. Jurisdiction

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

127. Initial child-custody jurisdiction

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 130, a court of this State has jurisdiction to make an initial child-custody determination only if:

(1) this State is the home State of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home State of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this State but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this State;

(2) a court of another State does not have jurisdiction under paragraph (1), or a court of the home State of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this State is the more appropriate forum under § 133 or § 134, and:

(A) the child and the child's parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this State other than mere physical presence; and

(B) substantial evidence is available in this State concerning the child's care, protection, training, and personal relationships;

(3) all courts having jurisdiction under paragraph (1) or (2) have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that a court of this State is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child under § 133 or § 134; or

(4) no court of any other State would have jurisdiction under the criteria specified in paragraph (1), (2), or (3).

(b) Subsection (a) is the exclusive jurisdictional basis for making a child-custody determination by a court of this State.

(c) Physical presence of, or personal jurisdiction over, a party or a child is not necessary or sufficient to make a child-custody determination.

128. Exclusive, continuing jurisdiction

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 133, a court of this State which has made a child-custody determination consistent with § 127 or § 129 has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until:

(1) a court of this State determines that neither the child, nor the child and one parent, nor the child and a person acting as a parent have a significant connection with this State and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this State concerning the child's care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or

(2) a court of this State or a court of another State determines that the child, the child's parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in this State.

(b) A court of this State which has made a child-custody determination and does not have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under this section may modify that determination only if it has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under § 127.

129. Jurisdiction to modify determination

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Except as otherwise provided in § 130, a court of this State may not modify a child-custody determination made by a court of another State unless a court of this State has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under § 127(a)(1) or (2) and:

(1) the court of the other State determines it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under § 128 or that a court of this State would be a more convenient forum under § 133; or

(2) a court of this State or a court of the other State determines that the child, the child's parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in the other State.

130. Temporary emergency jurisdiction

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State has temporary emergency jurisdiction if the child is present in this State and the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.

(b) If there is no previous child-custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this chapter and a child-custody proceeding has not been commenced in a court of a State having jurisdiction under § 127 through § 129, a child-custody determination made under this section remains in effect until an order is obtained from a court of a State having jurisdiction under § 127 through § 129. If a child-custody proceeding has not been or is not commenced in a court of a State having jurisdiction under § 127 through § 129, a child- custody determination made under this section becomes a final determination, if it so provides and this State becomes the home State of the child.

(c) If there is a previous child-custody determination that is entitled to be enforced under this chapter, or a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in a court of a State having jurisdiction under § 127 through § 129, any order issued by a court of this State under this section must specify in the order a period that the court considers adequate to allow the person seeking an order to obtain an order from the State having jurisdiction under § 127 through § 129. The order issued in this State remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other State within the period specified or the period expires.

(d) A court of this State which has been asked to make a child-custody determination under this section, upon being informed that a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child-custody determination has been made by, a court of a State having jurisdiction under § 127 through § 129, shall immediately communicate with the other court. A court of this State which is exercising jurisdiction pursuant to § 127 through § 129, upon being informed that a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in, or a child-custody determination has been made by, a court of another State under a statute similar to this section shall immediately communicate with the court of that State to resolve the emergency, protect the safety of the parties and the child, and determine a period for the duration of the temporary order.

131. Notice; opportunity to be heard; joinder

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Before a child-custody determination is made under this chapter, notice and an opportunity to be heard in accordance with the standards of section 122 must be given to all persons entitled to notice under the law of this State as in child-custody proceedings between residents of this State, any parent whose parental rights have not been previously terminated, and any person having physical custody of the child.

(b) This chapter does not govern the enforceability of a child-custody determination made without notice or an opportunity to be heard.

(c) The obligation to join a party and the right to intervene as a party in a child-custody proceeding under this chapter are governed by the law of this State as in child-custody proceedings between residents of this State.

132. Simultaneous proceedings

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 130, a court of this State may not exercise its jurisdiction under this subchapter if, at the time of the commencement of the proceeding, a proceeding concerning the custody of the child has been commenced in a court of another State having jurisdiction substantially in conformity with this chapter, unless the proceeding has been terminated or is stayed by the court of the other State because a court of this State is a more convenient forum under § 133.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in § 130, a court of this State, before hearing a child-custody proceeding, shall examine the court documents and other information supplied by the parties pursuant to § 134. If the court determines that a child-custody proceeding has been commenced in a court in another State having jurisdiction substantially in accordance with this chapter, the court of this State shall stay its proceeding and communicate with the court of the other State. If the court of the State having jurisdiction substantially in accordance with this chapter does not determine that the court of this State is a more appropriate forum, the court of this State shall dismiss the proceeding.

(c) In a proceeding to modify a child-custody determination, a court of this State shall determine whether a proceeding to enforce the determination has been commenced in another State. If a proceeding to enforce a child-custody determination has been commenced in another State, the court may:

(1) stay the proceeding for modification pending the entry of an order of a court of the other State enforcing, staying, denying, or dismissing the proceeding for enforcement;

(2) enjoin the parties from continuing with the proceeding for enforcement; or

(3) proceed with the modification under conditions it considers appropriate.

133. Inconvenient forum

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State which has jurisdiction under this chapter to make a child-custody determination may decline to exercise its jurisdiction at any time if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances and that a court of another State is a more appropriate forum. The issue of inconvenient forum may be raised upon motion of a party, the court's own motion, or request of another court.

(b) Before determining whether it is an inconvenient forum, a court of this State shall consider whether it is appropriate for a court of another State to exercise jurisdiction. For this purpose, the court shall allow the parties to submit information and shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1) whether domestic violence has occurred and is likely to continue in the future and which State could best protect the parties and the child;

(2) the length of time the child has resided outside this State;

(3) the distance between the court in this State and the court in the State that would assume jurisdiction;

(4) the relative financial circumstances of the parties;

(5) any agreement of the parties as to which State should assume jurisdiction;

(6) the nature and location of the evidence required to resolve the pending litigation, including testimony of the child;

(7) the ability of the court of each State to decide the issue expeditiously and the procedures necessary to present the evidence; and

(8) the familiarity of the court of each State with the facts and issues in the pending litigation.

(c) If a court of this State determines that it is an inconvenient forum and that a court of another State is a more appropriate forum, it shall stay the proceedings upon condition that a child-custody proceeding be promptly commenced in another designated State and may impose any other condition the court considers just and proper.

(d) A court of this State may decline to exercise its jurisdiction under this chapter if a child-custody determination is incidental to an action for divorce or another proceeding while still retaining jurisdiction over the divorce or other proceeding.

134. Jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 130 or by other law of this State, if a court of this State has jurisdiction under this chapter because a person seeking to invoke its jurisdiction has engaged in unjustifiable conduct, the court shall decline to exercise its jurisdiction unless:

(1) the parents and all persons acting as parents have acquiesced in the exercise of jurisdiction;

(2) a court of the State otherwise having jurisdiction under § 126 through § 129 determines that this State is a more appropriate forum under § 133; or

(3) no court of any other State would have jurisdiction under the criteria specified in § 127 through § 129.

(b) If a court of this State declines to exercise its jurisdiction pursuant to subsection (a), it may fashion an appropriate remedy to ensure the safety of the child and prevent a repetition of the unjustifiable conduct, including staying the proceeding until a child-custody proceeding is commenced in a court having jurisdiction under § 127 through § 129.

(c) If a court dismisses a petition or stays a proceeding because it declines to exercise its jurisdiction pursuant to subsection (a), it shall assess against the party seeking to invoke its jurisdiction necessary and reasonable expenses including costs, communication expenses, attorney's fees, investigative fees, expenses for witnesses, travel expenses, and child care during the course of the proceedings, unless the party from whom fees are sought establishes that the assessment would be clearly inappropriate. The court may not assess fees, costs, or expenses against this State unless authorized by law other than this chapter.

135. Information to be submitted to court

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) In a child-custody proceeding, each party, in its first pleading or in an attached affidavit, shall give information, if reasonably ascertainable, under oath as to the child's present address or whereabouts, the places where the child has lived during the last five years, and the names and present addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during that period. The pleading or affidavit must state whether the party:

(1) has participated, as a party or witness or in any other capacity, in any other proceeding concerning the custody of or visitation with the child and, if so, identify the court, the case number, and the date of the child-custody determination, if any;

(2) knows of any proceeding that could affect the current proceeding, including proceedings for enforcement and proceedings relating to domestic violence, protective orders, termination of parental rights, and adoptions and, if so, identify the court, the case number, and the nature of the proceeding; and

(3) knows the names and addresses of any person not a party to the proceeding who has physical custody of the child or claims rights of legal custody or physical custody of, or visitation with, the child and, if so, the names and addresses of those persons.

(b) If the information required by subsection (a) is not furnished, the court, upon motion of a party or its own motion, may stay the proceeding until the information is furnished.

(c) If the declaration as to any of the items described in subsection (a)(1) through (3) is in the affirmative, the declarant shall give additional information under oath as required by the court. The court may examine the parties under oath as to details of the information furnished and other matters pertinent to the court's jurisdiction and the disposition of the case.

(d) Each party has a continuing duty to inform the court of any proceeding in this or any other State that could affect the current proceeding.

(e) If a party alleges in an affidavit or a pleading under oath that the health, safety, or liberty of a party or child would be jeopardized by disclosure of identifying information, the information must be sealed and may not be disclosed to the other party or the public unless the court orders the disclosure to be made after a hearing in which the court takes into consideration the health, safety, or liberty of the party or child and determines that the disclosure is in the interest of justice.

136. Appearance of parties and child

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) In a child-custody proceeding in this State, the court may order a party to the proceeding who is in this State to appear before the court in person with or without the child. The court may order any person who is in this State and who has physical custody or control of the child to appear in person with the child.

(b) If a party to a child-custody proceeding whose presence is desired by the court is outside this State, the court may order that a notice given pursuant to § 122 include a statement directing the party to appear in person with or without the child and informing the party that failure to appear may result in a decision adverse to the party.

(c) The court may enter any orders necessary to ensure the safety of the child and of any person ordered to appear under this section.

(d) If a party to a child-custody proceeding who is outside this State is directed to appear under subsection (b) or desires to appear personally before the court with or without the child, the court may require another party to pay reasonable and necessary travel and other expenses of the party so appearing and of the child.

Subchapter 3. Enforcement

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

137. Definition

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

In this subchapter:

(1) 'Petitioner' means a person who seeks enforcement of an order for return of a child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or enforcement of a child-custody determination.

(2) 'Respondent' means a person against whom a proceeding has been commenced for enforcement of an order for return of a child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or enforcement of a child-custody determination.

138. Enforcement under Hague Convention

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Under this subchapter a court of this State may enforce an order for the return of the child made under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction as if it were a child-custody determination.

139. Duty to enforce

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State shall recognize and enforce a child-custody determination of a court of another State if the latter court exercised jurisdiction in substantial conformity with this chapter or the determination was made under factual circumstances meeting the jurisdictional standards of this chapter and the determination has not been modified in accordance with this chapter.

(b) A court of this State may utilize any remedy available under other law of this State to enforce a child-custody determination made by a court of another State. The remedies provided in this subchapter are cumulative and do not affect the availability of other remedies to enforce a child-custody determination.

140. Temporary visitation

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State which does not have jurisdiction to modify a child-custody determination, may issue a temporary order enforcing:

(1) a visitation schedule made by a court of another State; or

(2) the visitation provisions of a child-custody determination of another State that does not provide for a specific visitation schedule.

(b) If a court of this State makes an order under subsection (a)(2), it shall specify in the order a period that it considers adequate to allow the petitioner to obtain an order from a court having jurisdiction under the criteria specified in subchapter 2. The order remains in effect until an order is obtained from the other court or the period expires.

140a. Registration of child-custody determination

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A child-custody determination issued by a court of another State may be registered in this State, with or without a simultaneous request for enforcement, by sending to the Virgin Islands Superior Court:

(1) a letter or other document requesting registration;

(2) two copies, including one certified copy, of the determination sought to be registered, and a statement under penalty of perjury that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person seeking registration the order has not been modified; and

(3) except as otherwise provided in § 135, the name and address of the person seeking registration and any parent or person acting as a parent who has been awarded custody or visitation in the child-custody determination sought to be registered.

(b) On receipt of the documents required by subsection (a), the registering court shall:

(1) cause the determination to be filed as a foreign judgment, together with one copy of any accompanying documents and information, regardless of their form; and

(2) serve notice upon the persons named pursuant to subsection (a)(3) and provide them with an opportunity to contest the registration in accordance with this section.

(c) The notice required by subsection (b)(2) must state that:

(1) a registered determination is enforceable as of the date of the registration in the same manner as a determination issued by a court of this State;

(2) a hearing to contest the validity of the registered determination must be requested within 20 days after service of notice; and

(3) failure to contest the registration will result in confirmation of the child-custody determination and preclude further contest of that determination with respect to any matter that could have been asserted.

(d) A person seeking to contest the validity of a registered order must request a hearing within 20 days after service of the notice. At that hearing, the court shall confirm the registered order unless the person contesting registration establishes that:

(1) the issuing court did not have jurisdiction under subchapter 2;

(2) the child-custody determination sought to be registered has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under subchapter 2; or

(3) the person contesting registration was entitled to notice, but notice was not given in accordance with the standards of § 122, in the proceedings before the court that issued the order for which registration is sought.

(e) If a timely request for a hearing to contest the validity of the registration is not made, the registration is confirmed as a matter of law and the person requesting registration and all persons served must be notified of the confirmation.

(f) Confirmation of a registered order, whether by operation of law or after notice and hearing, precludes further contest of the order with respect to any matter that could have been asserted at the time of registration.

140b. Enforcement of registered determination

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A court of this State may grant any relief normally available under the law of this State to enforce a registered child-custody determination made by a court of another State.

(b) A court of this State shall recognize and enforce, but may not modify, except in accordance with subchapter 2, a registered child-custody determination of a court of another State.

140c. Simultaneous proceedings

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

If a proceeding for enforcement under this subchapter is commenced in a court of this State and the court determines that a proceeding to modify the determination is pending in a court of another State having jurisdiction to modify the determination under subchapter 2, the enforcing court shall immediately communicate with the modifying court. The proceeding for enforcement continues unless the enforcing court, after consultation with the modifying court, stays or dismisses the proceeding.

140d. Expedited enforcement of child-custody determination

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A petition under this subchapter must be verified. Certified copies of all orders sought to be enforced and of any order confirming registration must be attached to the petition. A copy of a certified copy of an order may be attached instead of the original.

(b) A petition for enforcement of a child-custody determination must state:

(1) whether the court that issued the determination identified the jurisdictional basis it relied upon in exercising jurisdiction and, if so, what the basis was;

(2) whether the determination for which enforcement is sought has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court whose decision must be enforced under this chapter and, if so, identify the court, the case number, and the nature of the proceeding;

(3) whether any proceeding has been commenced that could affect the current proceeding, including proceedings relating to domestic violence, protective orders, termination of parental rights, and adoptions and, if so, identify the court, the case number, and the nature of the proceeding;

(4) the present physical address of the child and the respondent, if known;

(5) whether relief in addition to the immediate physical custody of the child and attorney's fees is sought, including a request for assistance from law enforcement officials and, if so, the relief sought; and

(6) if the child-custody determination has been registered and confirmed under § 140a, the date and place of registration.

(c) Upon the filing of a petition, the court shall issue an order directing the respondent to appear in person with or without the child at a hearing and may enter any order necessary to ensure the safety of the parties and the child. The hearing must be held on the next judicial day after service of the order unless that date is impossible. In that event, the court shall hold the hearing on the first judicial day possible. The court may extend the date of hearing at the request of the petitioner.

(d) An order issued under subsection (c) must state the time and place of the hearing and advise the respondent that at the hearing the court will order that the petitioner may take immediate physical custody of the child and the payment of fees, costs, and expenses under § 140h, and may schedule a hearing to determine whether further relief is appropriate, unless the respondent appears and establishes that:

(1) the child-custody determination has not been registered and confirmed under § 140a and that:

(A) the issuing court did not have jurisdiction under subchapter 2;

(B) the child-custody determination for which enforcement is sought has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under subchapter 2; or

(C) the respondent was entitled to notice, but notice was not given in accordance with the standards of § 122, in the proceedings before the court that issued the order for which enforcement is sought; or

(2) the child-custody determination for which enforcement is sought was registered and confirmed under § 140, but has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court of a State having jurisdiction to do so under subchapter 2.

140e. Service of petition and order

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Except as otherwise provided in § 140g, the petition and order must be served, by any method authorized under the rules of the Superior Court, upon respondent and any person who has physical custody of the child.

140f. Hearing and order

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Unless the court issues a temporary emergency order pursuant to § 130, upon a finding that a petitioner is entitled to immediate physical custody of the child, the court shall order that the petitioner may take immediate physical custody of the child unless the respondent establishes that:

(1) the child-custody determination has not been registered and confirmed under § 140a and that:

(A) the issuing court did not have jurisdiction under subchapter 2;

(B) the child-custody determination for which enforcement is sought has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court of a State having jurisdiction to do so under subchapter 2; or

(C) the respondent was entitled to notice, but notice was not given in accordance with the standards of § 122, in the proceedings before the court that issued the order for which enforcement is sought; or

(2) the child-custody determination for which enforcement is sought was registered and confirmed under 140a, but has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court of a State having jurisdiction to do so under subchapter 2.

(b) The court shall award the fees, costs, and expenses authorized under § 140h and may grant additional relief, including a request for the assistance of law enforcement officials, and set a further hearing to determine whether additional relief is appropriate.

(c) If a party called to testify refuses to answer on the ground that the testimony may be self incriminating, the court may draw an adverse inference from the refusal.

(d) A privilege against disclosure of communications between spouses and a defense of immunity based on the relationship of husband and wife or parent and child may not be invoked in a proceeding under this subchapter.

140g. Warrant to take physical custody of child

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Upon the filing of a petition seeking enforcement of a child-custody determination, the petitioner may file a verified application for the issuance of a warrant to take physical custody of the child if the child is immediately likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this State.

(b) If the court, upon the testimony of the petitioner or other witness, finds that the child is imminently likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this State, it may issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child. The petition must be heard on the next judicial day after the warrant is executed unless that date is impossible. In that event, the court shall hold the hearing on the first judicial day possible. The application for the warrant must include the statements required by § 140d(b).

(c) A warrant to take physical custody of a child must:

(1) recite the facts upon which a conclusion of imminent serious physical harm or removal from the jurisdiction is based;

(2) direct law enforcement officers to take physical custody of the child immediately; and

(3) provide for the placement of the child pending final relief.

(d) The respondent must be served with the petition, warrant, and order immediately after the child is taken into physical custody.

(e) A warrant to take physical custody of a child is enforceable throughout this State. If the court finds on the basis of the testimony of the petitioner or other witness that a less intrusive remedy is not effective, it may authorize law enforcement officers to enter private property to take physical custody of the child. If required by exigent circumstances of the case, the court may authorize law enforcement officers to make a forcible entry at any hour.

(f) The court may impose conditions upon placement of a child to ensure the appearance of the child and the child's custodian.

140h. Costs, fees and expenses

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The court shall award the prevailing party, including a State, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by or on behalf of the party, including costs, communication expenses, attorney's fees, investigative fees, expenses for witnesses, travel expenses, and child care during the course of the proceedings, unless the party from whom fees or expenses are sought establishes that the award would be clearly inappropriate.

(b) The court may not assess fees, costs, or expenses against a State unless authorized by law other than this chapter.

140i. Recognition and enforcement

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

A court of this State shall accord full faith and credit to an order issued by another State and consistent with this chapter which enforces a child-custody determination by a court of another State unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under subchapter 2.

140j. Appeals

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

An appeal may be taken from a final order in a proceeding under this subchapter in accordance with law. Unless the court enters a temporary emergency order under § 130, the enforcing court may not stay an order enforcing a child-custody determination pending appeal.

140k. Role of prosecutor

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) In a case arising under this chapter or involving the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the prosecutor may take any lawful action, including resort to a proceeding under this subchapter or any other available civil proceeding to locate a child, obtain the return of a child, or enforce a child-custody determination if there is:

(1) an existing child-custody determination;

(2) a request to do so from a court in a pending child-custody proceeding;

(3) a reasonable belief that a criminal statute has been violated; or

(4) a reasonable belief that the child has been wrongfully removed or retained in violation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

(b) A prosecutor acting under this section acts on behalf of the court and may not represent any party.

140l. Role of law enforcement

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

At the request of a prosecutor acting under § 140k, a law enforcement officer may take any lawful action reasonably necessary to locate a child or a party and assist a prosecutor with responsibilities under § 4987.

140m. Costs and expenses

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

If the respondent is not the prevailing party, the court may assess against the respondent all direct expenses and costs incurred by the prosecutor and law enforcement officers under § 140k or § 140l.

Subchapter 4. Miscellaneous Provisions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

140n. Application and construction

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April 12, 2018

In applying and construing this Uniform Act, consideration must be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with respect to its subject matter among States that enact it.

140o. Severability clause

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

If any provision of this chapter or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are severable.

Chapter 17. Grandparents' Visitation Rights

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

601. Short title

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

This chapter is known as and may be cited as 'The Virgin Islands Grandparents' Visitation Rights Act'.

602. Declaration of public policy

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

It is the express policy of this Territory to encourage continuing contact between a minor child and parents and grandparents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to further encourage parents and grandparents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage or relationship.

603. Definitions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

For purposes of this chapter, the term, 'grandparent' means (1) the biological or adoptive parent of either parent of the minor child, including (2) a biological grandparent of a child adopted by a stepparent, or another relative of the child, including a stepparent of the minor child's parent, where a substantial relationship exists between the other relative and the child, and visitation means visitation that is supervised or unsupervised depending on the circumstances of every case and as determined by the court.

604. Action by grandparent for right of visitation

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) A grandparent of a minor child may petition the court for reasonable rights of visitation of a minor child when one or more of the following circumstances exists:

(1) The parents of the minor child are currently living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis.

(2) One of the parents has been absent for not less than one month, without the other parent's knowing the whereabouts of the absent parent.

(3) The child is not residing with either parent and has not been legally adopted.

(4) The child's parent, who is the child of the grandparents, has died and the parent has not married a spouse who has legally adopted the child.

(b) The petitioner shall give notice of the petition by personal service, pursuant to the Rules of the Superior Court, to each of the parents of the child, any stepparent, and any person who has physical custody of the child.

605. Factors to be considered by the court in granting visitation rights

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

The court may grant a grandparent reasonable rights of visitation or access to a minor child upon finding that the rights of visitation or access are in the best interest of the child and would not significantly interfere with any parent-child relationship or with the parent's rightful authority over the child. In applying this standard, the court shall consider the following factors:

(a) Whether such visitation would be in the best interest of the child;

(b) Whether such visitation would interfere with any parent-child relationship or with a parent's authority over the child;

(c) The nature of the relationship between the grandparent and the minor child, including but not limited to, the frequency of contact, and whether the child has lived with the grandparent and length of time of such residence, and the motivation of the grandparent and capacity to give the child love, affection and guidance;

(d) Whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the child's physical or emotional health would be endangered by such visitation or lack of it;

(e) The nature of the relationship between the grandparent and the parent of the minor child, including friction between the grandparent and the parent, and the effect such friction would have on the child;

(f) The age of the child;

(g) The circumstances that resulted in the absence of a nuclear family, whether by divorce, death, relinquishment or termination of parental rights, or other cause;

(h) The recommendation regarding visitation made by any guardian ad litem appointed for the child or by a child welfare agency;

(i) Any preference or wishes expressed by the child, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express a meaningful preference; and

(j) Any such other factors as the court may find appropriate or relevant to the petition for visitation.

606. Notice; standing to intervene

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) Once a grandparent has been granted visitation rights, the grandparent shall be given proper notice of any petition or order providing for a change in custody or visitation rights, and the grandparent shall have standing to intervene and be heard in any hearing affecting the grandparent's visitation rights.

(b) Any order granting, modifying or denying parent visitation rights shall not affect visitation rights granted to a grandparent pursuant to this chapter, absent a specific finding pursuant to section 608 of this chapter.

(c) If the child is actually residing with a grandparent in a stable relationship, whether the court has awarded custody or visitation to the grandparent or not, the court may recognize the grandparent as having the same standing as a parent for evaluating what custody arrangements are in the best interest of the child.

607. Inapplicability

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

The visitation rights granted to grandparents under this chapter do not apply in cases where the grandparent's access to the minor child has been restricted for any reason prior to or contemporaneous with the divorce, death, relinquishment or termination of parental rights, or other cause of the absence of a nuclear family.

608. Termination or modification of visitation rights

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Upon petition by either parent and a finding that a significant change of circumstances has occurred where visitation is no longer in the best interest of the child, the court may modify or terminate grandparent visitation rights. Any order denying or terminating grandparent visitation shall be in writing and shall state its reasons for denial or termination. An order denying or terminating visitation shall be a final order for the purposes of appeal.

Title 23. Internal Security and Public Order

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

Chapter 5. Control of Firearms and Ammunition

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

451. Definitions

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise

(a) ‘Ammunition‘means any bullet, cartridge, projectile, buckshot, or any load placed or which may be placed in a firearm to be discharged.(b) ‘Commissioner‘means the Police Commissioner of the Virgin Islan ds.(c) ‘Concealed firearm or handgun‘means a firearm or handgun that i s covered, hidden, or secreted in a manner that the public would not be aware of its presence and is readily accessible for immediate use.(d) ‘Department‘means the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department. (e) ‘Handgun‘means a firearm as defined in subsection (d) of this s ection which has a barrel that does not exceed 12 inches, whether loaded or unloaded.(f) ‘Firearm‘means any device by whatever name known, capable of di scharging ammunition by means of gas generated from an explosive composition, including any air gas or spring gun or any ‘BB‘pistols or ‘BB‘guns that have been adapted or modified to discharge projectiles as a firearm.(g) ‘Crime of violence‘means the crime of, or the attempt to commit , murder in any degree, voluntary manslaughter, rape, arson, discharging or aiming firearms, mayhem, kidnapping, assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, robbery, burglary, unlawful entry or larceny.(h) ‘Dealer in firearms and/r ammunition‘means any person engaged in the business of selling firearms and/r ammunition, for a profit or gain.(i) ‘Gunsmith‘means any person who engages in the business of repai ring, altering, cleaning, polishing, engraving, blueing or performing any mechanical operation on any firearm on an individual order basis.(j) ‘Automatic weapon‘means any firearm, as defined in title 23, ch apter 5, section 451(d) of this Code that has the capacity to fire more than one shot without manually reloading with a single pull of the trigger.(k) ‘Semi-Automatic weapon‘mean any firearm, as defined in title 23 , chapter 5, section 451(d) of this Code that has the capacity to fire one shot with each pull of the trigger without manually reloading.(l) ‘Conversion kit‘means any part or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting any firearm into an automatic weapon, and any combination of parts from which an automatic weapon can be assembled if the parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.(m) ‘Assault rifle‘means a selective-fire rifle that uses an interm ediate cartridge, including, but not limited, to the following characteristics:(1) It must be an individual weapon with provision to fire from the shoulder (i.e. a buttstock); and(2) It must be capable of selective fire; and(3) It must have an intermediate-power cartridge more power than a pis tol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle; and(4) Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable magazine.(n) The term ‘electric weapon or device‘means any device which, thr ough the application or use of electric current, including buttery operated devices, is designed, redesigned, used, or intended to be used for offensive or defensive purposes, the destruction of life, or the infliction of injury.

456a. Persons ineligible to possess or carry firearms or ammunition

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The following persons are ineligible for a license to possess or carry a firearm or ammunition as provided in this chapter:

(1) a person who has been convicted in any court for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;

(2) a person who is a fugitive from justice;

(3) a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance as defined in title 19, section 593(6) of the Virgin Islands Code;

(4) a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution:

(A) For the purpose of this section the phrase ‘committed to a mental institution‘ includes commitment to a mental institution involuntarily, but does not include a person held in a mental institution for observation.

(B) For the purpose of this section, the phrase ‘mental institution‘ includes mental health facilities, mental hospitals, sanitariums, psychiatric facilities and other facilities that provide diagnoses by licensed professionals for mental retardation or mental illness, including a psychiatric ward in a public or private hospital.

(5) a person who, being an alien, is illegally or unlawfully in the United States;

(6) a person who has been discharged from the United States Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;

(7) a person who, having been a citizen of the Unites States, has renounced his citizenship;

(8) a person who is subject to a court order that-

(A) was issued after a hearing of which the person received actual notice, and at which the person had an opportunity to participate;

(B) restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and

(C)

(i) includes a finding that the person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or

(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or

(9) a person who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

-Added Mar. 5, 2005, No. 6730, § 29, Sess. L. 2005, pp. 106-108.

458. Grounds for refusing to issue license

Updated: 
April 12, 2018

(a) The Commissioner shall not issue a license to have and possess a firearm to any person convicted in or outside the Virgin Islands of any crime of violence; or of any violation of a narcotic or ‘harmful drug‘law; nor to any person who is mentally incompetent, or a alcoholic or a narcotic or drug addict; nor to any person convicted for the violation of the provisions of this chapter; nor to any person who for justifiable reasons is deemed to be an improper person by the Commissioner.

(b) As used in subsection

Credits

(a)

(1) ‘Mentally incompetent‘means a person who is manifestly psychoti c or otherwise of unsound mind, either consistently or sporadically, by reason of mental defect, among which are retardation, schizophrenia or other acute hallucinatory and delusory defects of mind, certain types of epilepsy or other seizure disorders which render the individual coordinated and mobile but of unsound mind, bipolar disorder which results in sporadic psychosis, and other disorders which consistently or sporadically render the person starkly incapable of maintaining awareness of and responsibility for his actions.(2) ‘Alcoholic‘means a person who has a problematic pattern of usin g alcohol that results in impairment in daily life or noticeable distress, and typically including a strong desire to take alcohol, difficulties in controlling use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to alcohol use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and a physical withdrawal state.(3) ‘Narcotic or drug addict‘means a person with a chronic, relapsi ng brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

(c) There is a non-rebuttable presumption that an applicant is an alcoholic or a narcotic or drug addict if the applicant has at any time been committed to a health care facility for treatment of alcoholism or narcotic or drug addiction, or if the applicant has two or more alcohol-related or narcotic or drug addiction-related convictions under the laws of the Virgin Islands or the laws of any state. But notwithstanding the foregoing, the Commissioner may issue a license to an alcoholic or a narcotic or drug addict, if the applicant provides an affidavit signed by a licensed professional counselor averring that the applicant is a recovering alcoholic or a recovering narcotic or drug addict who has refrained from using alcohol or drugs for at least three years.

(d) Not later than 30 days after an applicant has filed an application for a license under section 454 or 454a, the Commissioner shall provide a written explanation either mailed or hand-deliver to an applicant who has been denied a license.

(e) The Commissioner shall not issue a license to have and possess a firearm to persons employed by private security guard or investigative agencies, as defined in subsection (g) of section 1301 of this title, unless and until such persons (i) have successfully completed the psychological and drug and alcohol abuse tests authorized to be administered by the Department of Health pursuant to the provisions of section 418a of chapter 23 of Title 3, Virgin Islands Code, and (ii) have successfully completed a comprehensive course in the proper handling and use of firearms, including a comprehensive examination at the conclusion thereof, which, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is comparable in scope to that administered to appointees of the Police Division of the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department (V.I.P.D.) pursuant to the authority of section 258, Title 3, Virgin Islands Code; Provided, however, That once such persons have complied with requirements under this subsection, he or she will be deemed to have complied with these requirements for all future applications for licenses to have and possess firearms, or for renewals of such licenses.