Despite the controversy surrounding mandatory minimum sentence laws, Virginia remains one of the few states that maintain the minimum required legal punishments for specific offenses. The nonprofit organization Justice Forward Virginia reports that the state also has the third-largest prison population per capita in the nation and third largest in the Northeast.
Review the laws about mandatory minimum sentences in Virginia to prepare yourself to face a serious legal charge.
Types of offenses with mandatory minimums
According to a report from the Virginia State Crime Commission, the state has mandatory minimum sentences for 162 felony offenses and 62 misdemeanor offenses. Crimes related to driving while intoxicated represent most of the misdemeanor offenses with mandatory minimums.
Examples of felony offenses that result in mandatory minimum prison sentences include:
- Assault, 30 days to five years
- DWI, five to 45 days
- Fraud, six months
- Murder, one year to life
- Narcotics offenses, six months to life
- Weapons offenses, one to five years
Penalties within the mandatory minimum range vary based on the severity of the offense, prior history and other factors.
Controversy about mandatory minimums
Critics of the mandatory minimum laws say these policies drive mass incarceration, particularly of Black men and other minority groups. Under these laws, courts cannot consider mitigating factors in an individual’s case. JFW also notes that statistically, mandatory minimums do little to deter criminal activity while removing critical checks and balances of the legal system.
Understanding whether a legal charge carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence can help you determine the best course of action as you defend against the allegations.