What Sentence Will I Get If I’m Convicted of A Criminal Charge In Virginia?

by J.D. Garrett on July 11, 2013

One of the most common, if not the most common, question we receive from individuals charged with criminal offenses is, “What kind of time am I facing?” The answer to that question is not easily answered. Maximum sentences for any criminal offense in Virginia are established in the Virginia code, both for misdemeanor offenses and felony charges. However, it is extremely rare that anyone ever is sentenced to the maximum sentence, unless the facts and circumstances of the case are incredibly aggravating.

During the sentencing phase of any trial, the court considers a whole host of factors when determining an appropriate sentence. The factors that have the most impact on a sentence include, prior record of the defendant, extent of any victim injury, and impact statements from the victim or family members. Other factors the court considers are character letters and testimony for the defendant, rehabilitative measures taken by the defendant, restitution to the victim, and family and social history of the defendant.

For felony convictions, the Circuit Court judge will order a pre-sentence report to be compiled by the probation department. The pre-sentence report will include discretionary sentencing guidelines which the judge may follow as well.

How Much Of My Sentence Will I Serve?

For misdemeanor charges, the Virginia Code allows for the credit of one day for every day served, essentially 50% of the sentence. In addition, the jail is permitted to give additional credit for certain exemplary behavior, such as work details and trustee status. If the sentence includes any mandatory minimum sentence, there is no credit for good conduct allowed. For shorter sentences, usually less than 60 days, the judge does have the discretion to allow the defendant to serve the jail time on weekends.

Felony sentences are also allowed Earned Sentence Credit (ESC) under the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) Operating Procedures. For all sentences in excess of 12 months, the VDOC will credit 4.5 days for every 30 days served, in other words, 15% credit. This credit is only available to sentences of 12 months or more. Any felony sentence of less than 12 months must be served in its entirety.

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