Virginia Ends Antiquated Jury Sentencing


Jury sentencing will end in Virginia. Virginia lawmakers passed an unprecedented measure that effectively levels the playing field for criminal defendants. Effective July 1, 2021, juries will no longer determine the appropriate punishment (sentencing) in criminal cases. This monumental move by our legislature takes a lot of the risk out of jury trials; therefore, leaving the decision on punishment in the hands of the Judge. Many have argued for this change for years and it’s finally here. No longer does a criminal defendant have to worry about a jury, who do not consider sentencing guidelines, can not suspend a sentence, and can not order the Defendant onto probation, imposing lengthy jail terms due to statutory minimum and maximum penalties.


Read the full article at Virginia Mercury.

Ending jury sentencing means that individuals who would normally receive a sentence far less than the statutory minimum. This applies when mandatory minimum sentences are not applicable and permits the Judge suspend all or part of that statutory minimum. This eliminates taking a plea deal when sentencing guidelines call for a short period of incarceration. No longer will a criminal defendant have to plea out of fear the jury will find the individual guilty and be required to impose a 5 year sentence or higher.

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