Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sentencing in Virginia

Sentencing in the world of criminal defense always seems to be somewhat convoluted.  In Las Vegas, there are many people, aside from celebrities who make the news, who are being released from jail/prison after serving only a fraction of their sentence.  Many people are released on parole after a certain amount of time served.  It seems it is impossible to predict how much time a person will actually serve. 

In Virginia, parole was abolished in 1995.  For people who committed offenses prior to January 1, 1995 they may still be eligible to be released on parole.  However, for those who committed offenses after January 1, 1995, there is essentially no possibility of parole. 

In exchange for abolishing parole, Virginia enacted something called Truth in Sentencing.  This provides a somewhat more standard procedure for determining how much time people will actually serve.  Based on this, everyone convicted of a misdemeanor is required to serve AT LEAST 50% of the time to which they were sentenced.  Similarly, everyone convicted of a felony is required to serve AT LEAST 85% of the time to which they were sentenced.  These times are typically calculated by the jail or prison and the actual amount of time served may still vary somewhat. 

Due to Virginia's Truth in Sentencing and the abolishment of parole, it is significantly easier to predict how much time someone will serve for a crime.  Remember to always contact an attorney for legal advice regarding any sentence you may be facing.