Hall v. Commonwealth (P)

A defendant who “truthfully provide[d] all information and evidence concerning his offense” immediately prior to his sentencing hearing complied with the “safety valve” provision of Code § 18.2-248(C), which requires disclosure “not later than the time of the sentencing hearing” in order to avoid a mandatory sentence.

The phrase “not later than the time of the sentencing hearing” means prior to the commencement of the sentencing hearing; a disclosure is timely if made by the time of the commencement of a sentencing hearing. Numerous federal jurisdictions that take this approach show that it is not “legally unworkable” as the Commonwealth contends. And a defendant enters this type of last minute disclosure at his own risk: The trial court is within its discretion to disbelieve a self-serving disclosure, and to consider the last-ditch nature of the effort or previous untruths into that calculus.

Here, however, the trial court refused to consideration the defendant’s last-minute motion for relief as per se untimely. While timing may weigh into a trial court’s merits analysis, it may not bar a motion on that basis when the disclosure was made not later than the commencement of the sentencing hearing.

Reversed and remanded for consideration on the merits.

Hall v. Commonwealth (P), No. 180197, Dec. 20, 2018. SCV (Millette) from CAV.



Categories: Opinions, Published, Supreme Court of Virginia

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