In a recent case before a Virginia Court of Appeals, the defendant argued that the lower court had unfairly sentenced him after his third DUI conviction. According to the defendant, the court considered the defendant’s previous two DUI offenses as evidence when deciding his sentence, and they were only technically allowed to consider one of the offenses in question. Ultimately, the higher court disagreed, and the original sentence was kept in place.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was first convicted of driving under the influence in early 2020. He was convicted for a second DUI offense in the summer of 2021, and he was convicted for a third DUI offense in late 2020. When the defendant was pulled over for the third DUI, the officer conducted a blood test and found that the defendant’s blood alcohol was .405%, well above the Commonwealth’s legal limit.
When the defendant’s third DUI case went to trial, the court looked at the defendant’s record to find out how many previous DUI convictions the defendant had obtained. The more convictions the defendant had on his record, the higher his sentence would be. Because the defendant was in the process of appealing his second DUI conviction, he argued the court should not consider this second conviction when deciding his sentence.
The trial court, however, ruled that the second conviction was admissible, and the court sentenced the defendant to five years in prison as a result.
On appeal, the defendant challenged the lower court’s consideration of his second conviction in the sentencing hearing. According to the defendant, his appeal was still pending, so it was unfair for the court to use this conviction as evidence when no one knew how the appeal would turn out.
The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed. If the court were to agree with the defendant’s argument, said the court, defendants would be able to postpone their sentencing hearings by continuing to appeal before the trial court, the Supreme Court of Virginia, and even the United States Supreme Court. Because appeals generally take a long time, this would allow defendants to use appealing as a way to avoid harsher sentences.
Because this did not seem right to the court, the defendant’s appeal was denied. The court held that the lower court was allowed to consider the second conviction in deciding the defendant’s sentence, even though that second conviction was then still on appeal.
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