Q: Virginia: How might an inmate pursue sentence relief after transfer to the VADOC if they feel they were over-sentenced?
An inmate was sentenced to 90 years (suspended 63) for three robberies and one attempted robbery in 2001 long before the passing of Virginia House Bill 1936 which establishes classifications and sentencing guidelines for robberies. The inmate did not use a firearm in the commission of the robberies and did not physically harm anyone. This is all documented in the court records. At the highest, these robberies would have been classified as Class 5’s under the new House Bill 1936 which is unfortunately not retroactive. The inmate would have received 4 to 40 years under HB 1936, of which a portion would have likely been suspended. The inmate has also worked his way down from a maximum to minimum security prison, has completed a number of college credits, has no behavior issues and has plans to go into real estate upon release. He also wants to spend time with his grandsons. To date, the inmate has served more than 20 years. How might he go about pursuing sentence relief in Virginia?
A: Since the law is not retroactive, hire an attorney to bring up all of the positive factors at the inmate’s next parole hearing. It is too late to do a Motion to Reconsider under Virginia Law. You have 21 days from entry of the final order to have the motion heard. It must be ruled on within those 21 days. You can file an appeal to The Virginia Court of Appeals by noting an appeal within 30 days of the sentencing order being entered.
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