If you’ve been charged with a felony in Virginia, you may be facing a possible prison sentence, lengthy probation, fines, or some combination of these penalties. However, many people are shocked to discover that these consequences are not set in stone, but are subject to a judge’s discretion. In many cases, sentences are left up to a judge’s discretion and will be guided by Virginia’s felony sentencing guidelines
If you’ve been charged with a felony in Virginia, the best thing you can do is hire an experienced Roanoke criminal defense attorney who will fight for you to obtain the best possible result. As you face these charges, don’t leave your up to chance. Reach out to an experienced lawyer who will out their skills to work as they fight for you to achieve a favorable sentence under the guidelines – if you are convicted. Schedule a free consultation with a felony lawyer at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico today. Contact us today at (540) 343-9349 to get started on your case.
What are Sentencing Guidelines?
The Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission created sentencing guidelines to ensure consistency in how individuals are penalized for felonies throughout Virginia. These guidelines include a number of factors to help judges determine an appropriate sentencing range for a particular case.
The Commission starts with similar sentences statewide for the last five years, statewide. Then the exclude the top 25% and the bottom 25%. The lowest and highest sentences left are the low and the high points of the guidelines. The average of the middle 50% is the midpoint. From here, a judge
It’s important to note that if a judge sentences outside of these guidelines, they must submit a written explanation if they deviate from the guidelines.
Additionally, the sentencing guidelines only apply to pleas and non-jury trials. If a jury convicts you, they are not obligated to apply the sentencing guidelines. That’s why an experienced Virginia felony lawyer may recommend that you do not ask for a jury trial, because the sentencing can be unpredictable if you are convicted.
Factors Used in Determining Sentences
If you plead guilty or are convicted of a felony, the sentencing guidelines compel the judge to consider several factors to determine your sentence. The factors are laid out in several worksheets for different specific crimes. The worksheets are somewhat complex, and take the following into account:
- Primary offense – Every offense carries a certain number of points. If you’re facing multiple charges, the most serious offense will be the one that carries the most points. Therefore, it will be deemed the primary offense.
- Additional offenses – Each additional offense will also carry more points. It’s important to understand, however, that multiple counts for the same crime will be considered additional offenses.
- Mandatory minimums – If any of your charges carry mandatory minimum sentences, this will result in additional points.
- Use of a weapon – Additional points will be added if you used a weapon while committing the offense.
- Criminal history – Additional points will be assigned for prior convictions. Further points may be added if you have been previously incarcerated, or if you committed the current offense while on probation or parole.
The points accumulated will are then used to determine your sentencing range. The more points you accumulate, the longer your sentence. However, a judge can use their discretion to sentence you on the higher or lower end of that range. An experienced Virginia felony lawyer can make sure that every aspect of your case is taken into account.
Contact a Felony Lawyer Today for Help With Your Case
The sentencing phase of a criminal case is more complicated than you might expect. An experienced Virginia felony attorney can fight for leniency in your case, making sure the judge is aware of the facts and circumstances that are in your favor. At Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, we have been helping people facing criminal charges for decades, and we’re prepared to help you.