Reyes v. Commonwealth (P)

The trial court properly denied a continuance sought under Code § 19.2-159.1.

Under that statute, the only decision the legislature has left to a court’s discretion is what continuance, if any, is reasonable. The continuance provision serves only to protect the defendant’s existing rights, and that purpose of the statute is merely incidental to the primary, fiscal one.

Because Code § 19.2-159.1 requires a defendant who ceases to be indigent to obtain private counsel at his or her own expense whenever the indigence ends, the General Assembly provided for a continuance to allow the defendant time to choose a new attorney and time for that new attorney to prepare to provide effective assistance. But a violation of the defendant’s rights occurs only if the underlying Sixth Amendment protections are infringed. Here, the defendant didn’t assert that a new ability to retain private counsel entitled him to substitute counsel of his choice under the Sixth Amendment.


Reyes v. Commonwealth (P), No. 180191, Feb. 21, 2019. SCV (Mims) from CAV.

Categories: Opinions, Published, Supreme Court of Virginia

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