Sentencing in a criminal case involves more than just pronouncing a specific length of time that a defendant will spend in jail or prison. Judges typically attach a number of conditions to a sentence, which are designed to give defendants an incentive to remain law abiding. For example, a judge may order that a defendant serve a period of probation instead of sending that person immediately to jail.
During probation, a defendant may be required to meet with a probation officer, submit to drug testing and commit no new crimes. If, however, a defendant violates any of the conditions of probation, he or she may then have to serve a portion of or the entire sentence the judge pronounced at the original sentencing. Take the case of one Virginia Beach man as an example.
In July 2010, the court sentenced him to three years for destruction of property, petit larceny and burglary. This sentence was suspended, or not immediately enforced, on the condition that the man remain on good behavior. In Nov. 2011, however, authorities charged the man with assaulting a juvenile and robbing him of a small amount of cash. He was subsequently convicted of malicious wounding, armed robbery and other charges.
Because the commission of these crimes violated the court's instruction to remain on good behavior, the judge executed the original three-year sentence and added that to the sentence for the current charges. In total, the calculations are as follows: The judge pronounced a sentence of 24 years in prison for the Nov. 2011 charges. Eleven of those years are suspended, leaving him with 13 years to serve. But because the July 2010 sentence was executed, three years are added to the current sentence, meaning the total sentence is 16 years in prison.
Source: WAVY.com, "Man gets 16 years for $7 theft," Mila Mimica, Oct. 22, 2012
• Understanding the mechanics of sentencing can help defendants know what they could face if they are convicted or if they accept a plea bargain. You can learn more about our practice by visiting our Virginia Beach criminal defense page.