I would say that sex crimes, almost more than any other, are prosecuted very vigorously in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The prosecution tries very hard to get people to plead guilty to charges that are relatively lighter sentences because people understand that in so many of these cases they get life in prison if you go to trial and lose.
Prosecutors understand that a person better have a really, really strong case if they’re going to risk, literally risk the rest of their life to go to trial in a case like these. So prosecutors are aware of that and they know what’s at stake in these cases. They exploit the severe penalties that are available to them under Virginia law by forcing a defendant’s hand in the pleading guilty to something that might very well be a winnable trial, but they figure they’d rather do a couple of years away and still have a life when they get out.
What to Expect from Judges
Judges are very harsh in cases like these especially when it comes to sentencing. I think the judges as a general rule are less susceptible to the emotions that tend to prevail in sex related cases. In other words, I think that they can view the evidence with clear eyes that aren’t clouded by the emotions involved in a case of this nature.
So that’s the good news, but the bad news is the judges I think sentence just as harshly as juries do. The one thing that a defendant has going for him or her in a sex related case is the judge will always consult Virginia sentencing guidelines and they very often will heed to them. The guidelines in Virginia we have to remember and we’re often reminded that they are just guidelines and not requirements that the court follow. The guidelines exist to try to foster an element of consistency in sentencing throughout the Commonwealth.
When Should Someone Contact A Lawyer?
One should contact a lawyer as soon as they find out that there has been an allegation made against them. They should not wait to see if they’re going to get charged, but rather they should do it right away. In many cases the very best evidence that the government’s going to have is going to come from the defendant’s own words and any attorney that is worth his salt is going to tell that person to remain silent. They have a constitutional right to remain silent and it is always the smart thing to not talk to the police without first consulting an attorney.