THE CIRCUIT COURT OF LOUDOUN COUNTY Burke F. McCahill, Judge
D. Robinson, Assistant Public Defender (Elizabeth Jean
Lancaster, Deputy Public Defender, on briefs), for appellant.
Christopher P. Schandevel, Assistant Attorney General (Mark
R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Chief Judge Huff, Judges Humphreys and O'Brien
Argued at Fredericksburg, Virginia
A. HUFF, CHIEF JUDGE
Dravell Robinson ("appellant") appeals the sentence
imposed by the Circuit Court of Loudoun County ("trial
court") after his conviction for possession of a
Schedule I or II controlled substance in violation of Code
§ 18.2-250. Appellant's sole assignment of error is
that the trial court erred "in admitting the sentencing
order from the Fairfax County Circuit Court as such order
included information about a charge for which Mr. Robinson
was not convicted." For the following reasons, this
Court affirms the sentence imposed by the trial court.
appeal, "we consider the evidence and all reasonable
inferences flowing from that evidence in the light most
favorable to the Commonwealth, the prevailing party at
trial." Williams v. Commonwealth, 49 Va.App.
439, 442, 642 S.E.2d 295, 296 (2007) (en banc)
(quoting Jackson v. Commonwealth, 267 Va. 666, 672,
594 S.E.2d 595, 598 (2004)). So viewed, the evidence is as
Loudoun County Sheriff's deputy arrested appellant for
public intoxication on May 22, 2015, and a search incident to
arrest revealed drug paraphernalia and a substance later
determined to be cocaine. Appellant was tried by a jury on
charges of public intoxication and possession of a Schedule I
or II controlled substance. While the jury deliberated on the
question of appellant's guilt, counsel for both parties
and the trial court discussed exhibits the Commonwealth
intended to admit during the sentencing phase.
prosecutor expressed his intention to introduce evidence of
four prior convictions, including one from Fairfax County.
Defense counsel objected to the admission of the Fairfax
County order unless it was redacted to remove "any
reference to the charge that he was charged with but not
convicted of." The order in question referenced the fact
that the Commonwealth had indicted appellant for felony grand
larceny, but later amended the indictment to reduce the
charge to petit larceny. Appellant pled guilty and was
convicted on that lesser charge. The prosecutor argued that
the entire, unredacted final order should be admitted in
compliance with Code § 19.2-295.1. Appellant's
counsel argued that leaving information about the felony
charge would be "misleading" to the jury. The trial
court overruled appellant's objection and admitted the
final order in its entirety. The jury ultimately found
appellant guilty of possession of a controlled substance, but
not guilty of public intoxication.
side called any witnesses during sentencing, but both sides
argued for what they thought were appropriate sentences.
After pointing out that the sentencing range for
appellant's conviction was one to ten years of
incarceration, the Commonwealth requested a sentence of two
years. Appellant's counsel argued that a sentence over
twelve months would be excessive and asked the jury to limit
appellant's punishment to a fine. After a brief
deliberation, the jury delivered a verdict fixing
appellant's sentence at twelve months' incarceration
and a $2, 500 fine. The trial court imposed the jury's
sentence, and this appeal followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
in Virginia have long recognized that "[t]he scope of
testimony in the sentencing phase is wide, and the standard
for exclusion of relevant evidence is whether the prejudicial
effect substantially outweighs its probative value. This is a
matter of discretion for the circuit court and is . . .
reviewed [for] abuse of discretion . . . ." Prieto
v. Commonwealth, 283 Va. 149, 168, 721 S.E.2d 484, 496
(2012) (citation omitted). Under this standard, the trial
judge's ruling "will not be reversed simply because
an appellate court disagrees." Thomas v.
Commonwealth, 44 Va.App. 741, 753, 607 S.E.2d 738, 743
(quoting Henry J. Friendly, Indiscretion about
Discretion, 31 Emory L.J. 747, 754 (1982)), adopted
upon reh'g en banc, 45 Va.App. 811, 613 S.E.2d 870
(2005). Instead, "[o]nly when reasonable jurists could
not differ can [this Court] say an abuse of discretion has
occurred." Id. A trial court, however, "by
definition abuses its discretion when it makes an error of
law." Dean v. Commonwealth, 61 Va.App. 209,
213, 734 S.E.2d 673, 675 (2012) (quoting Porter v.
Commonwealth, 276 Va. 203, 260, 661 S.E.2d 415, 445
(2008)). Therefore, any abuse of discretion review must
ensure "that the discretion was not guided by erroneous
legal conclusions." Id. ...