Educational Books, Inc. v. Commonwealth

In Educational Books, Inc. v. Commonwealth, 228 Va. 392, 323 S.E.2d 84 (1984), two police investigators purchased magazines from the defendant store. The first investigator purchased a single magazine and three transparent packages, each containing three different magazines. At trial, five of these magazines were introduced into evidence. The second investigator purchased four magazines, all of which were introduced into evidence. Defendant was convicted of nine sales in violation of Code 18.2-374. See Educational Books, 228 Va. at 394, 323 S.E.2d at 85. The Virginia Supreme Court determined the unit of prosecution in the obscenity statute, Code 18.2-374, was a single item proscribed by the statute, reasoning that " Code 18.2-374 prohibits the sale of 'any obscene item.' Code 18.2-373 provides that 'obscene items' shall include 'any obscene . . . magazine.' The gravamen of the offense is the sale of a single obscene item." Id. at 395, 323 S.E.2d at 86.