VA2240 – The Right to Privacy When a Family Loses a Child
VA 2240 protects the memory of children murdered in a family or domestic violence case by giving families the ability to grieve and memorialize their child on their own terms.
While Virginia law already prohibited the release of names of victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse without consent, VA2240 extended this protection to all minor victims of murder. It required that if the victim is a minor, law enforcement must receive written consent from the victim’s next of kin prior to disclosing information that identifies the victim. The law was passed by the Virginia legislature with a near unanimous vote shortly after Kyra’s murder. Governor McAuliffe signed it into law in 2017.
VA2240 was inspired by the situation Jacqueline faced when her 28-month-old daughter, Kyra, was murdered by her biological father in Virginia during a court-sanctioned visit. While in unspeakable grief over the loss of Kyra, Jacqueline found Kyra’s name had become media headlines when police publicly disclosed Kyra’s name. The notoriety caused immense pain and problems at a time when Jacqueline was already suffering tremendously and needed to grieve privately. Kyra’s name and murder became trending topics online and fodder for internet trolls to criticize Jacqueline’s parenting. To cope, Jacqueline was forced to isolate herself completely, but that also meant she was unable to be reached by law enforcement working on her case and friends who were trying to help her during this terrible time. Since Kyra’s death, her name and images have been used in other media stories, always without Jacqueline’s permission.
We are proud VA2240 has helped other families in Virginia protect the memory of their child in family violence-related murders. There have been numerous instances when families have preserved their right to privacy since the law was enacted.