The three-strike law in Virginia applies to someone convicted of two previous violent crimes. It can affect sentencing, enhancing the penalties a person faces upon conviction. If you are arrested for or charged with a violent criminal offense for the third or subsequent time, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical to your fight for the best possible outcome.
Virginia Statute Defining the Three-Strike Law
According to Virginia law, anyone convicted of at least two separate acts of violence when those offenses are not part of the same event or plan and who has been out of prison between each conviction will be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of a third or subsequent act of violence. No part of the sentence can be suspended if the defendant admits or is found by the jury or judge to have been convicted of two or more prior acts of violence.
Offenses Included in the Three-Strike Law
The three-strike law only applies to acts of violence. Acts of violence involve offenses such as:
- Any abduction or kidnapping felony under Article 3 of the Code of Virginia
- Voluntary manslaughter and first and second-degree murder under Article 1 of the Code of Virginia
- Criminal sexual assault punishable as a felony under Article 7 of the Code of Virginia, except for offenses included in 18.2-67.5:2 or 18.2-67.5:3
- Mob-related felonies, as defined by Article 2 of the Code of Virginia
- Arson violating Virginia Code 18.2-77 if the burned structure was occupied or a Class 3 felony violating Virginia Code 18.2-79
- Any malicious bodily wounding or malicious felonious assault under Article 4 of the Code of Virginia
- Carjacking as defined in Virginia Code 18.2-58.1 or robbery under Virginia Code 18.2-58
Requirements for a Conviction Under the Three-Strikes Law
Specific requirements must be met for the three-strikes law to apply to your case, such as:
- You were out of prison between the prior convictions
- The offenses do not have to be identical
- The convictions were for violent crimes
- The crimes should not be associated with the same criminal act, meaning they must be unrelated to each other
How the Three-Strike Law Affects Parole and Good Behavior
If you’re sentenced to life in prison for a violent crime you committed after being convicted of at least two prior acts of violence, you will not be eligible for parole. You also can’t earn a good conduct allowance or earned sentence credits under Chapter 6 Title 53.1 of the Code of Virginia.
Except in certain circumstances, if the three-strike law applies to the crime you were charged with, you can petition the Parole Board for a conditional release if you:
- Have reached at least 65 and served five years or more of the imposed sentence; or
- Have reached 60 or older and served at least ten years of the imposed sentence
Defend Yourself with Help from an Aggressive Legal Team
Knowing you could spend the rest of your life behind bars is scary and overwhelming. Instead of taking your chance with an inexperienced criminal defense lawyer, hire someone with the skills and resources to develop a plan that reduces the risk of the maximum sentence.
At Shannon & Associates, P.C., we know the steps we must take to mount a solid defense to fight your charges. As former prosecutors, we bring a unique perspective into the courtroom. We will protect your rights and fight for your future.
If you were arrested for a violent crime and believe the three-strike law might apply to you, call us at (757) 228-5529 for a consultation in Hampton Roads, VA.