THE COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
ELIZABETH A. McCLANAHAN JUSTICE.
Gerald ("Patricia") and her daughter, Tarsha Gerald
("Tarsha") (collectively "the Geralds"),
were tried together and convicted in a bench trial in the
Albemarle County Circuit Court upon warrants charging each of
them with driving while on a suspended license, third or
subsequent offense, and upon indictments charging each of
them with perjury arising from testimony they gave in the
Albemarle County General District Court.
Geralds challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support
their perjury convictions and the territorial jurisdiction of
the Albemarle County Circuit Court over perjury committed in
the Albemarle County General District Court, which is located
in the City of Charlottesville. Additionally, Tarsha
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support her
conviction for driving while on a suspended license. We
affirm the Geralds' convictions.
accordance with familiar principles of appellate review, the
facts will be stated in the light most favorable to the
Commonwealth, the prevailing party at trial." Scott
v. Commonwealth, 292 Va. 380, 381, 789 S.E.2d 608, 608
(2016) (citing Baldwin v. Commonwealth, 274
Va. 276, 278, 645 S.E.2d 433, 433 (2007)). Therefore, we will
"discard the evidence of the [Geralds] in conflict with
that of the Commonwealth, and regard as true all the credible
evidence favorable to the Commonwealth and all fair
inferences to be drawn therefrom." Kelley v.
Commonwealth, 289 Va. 463, 467-68, 771 S.E.2d 672, 674
(2015) (quoting Parks v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 492,
498, 270 S.E.2d 755, 759 (1980)).
26, 2013 Accident and Investigation
26, 2013, Patricia was operating a vehicle, in which Tarsha
was riding as a passenger, when she rear-ended a vehicle
operated by Paul Welch ("Welch") while he was
stopped at a traffic light on Ivy Road in Albemarle County.
Welch exited his vehicle and saw Patricia exit from the
driver's side of the Gerald vehicle. Upon approaching
Welch, Patricia told him that she was sorry. Tarsha, who had
been in the passenger seat of the vehicle, also exited the
vehicle. She told Welch that she was the owner of the vehicle
and gave Welch a state-issued identification card and her
insurance information. The only other individual Welch
observed in the vehicle was a woman, who was seated in the
backseat, and did not exit the vehicle. Welch noticed
"groceries all over the backseat also." After Welch
asked for Patricia's driver's license, Tarsha
"ran around to the driver's side, hopped in the car,
" and Patricia "got in the passenger seat, and they
sped off." Welch "got in [his] car and followed
them until [he] could verify that [he] had the correct
Ralph Scopelliti ("Scopelliti") responded to the
scene of the accident and spoke to Welch. Scopelliti relayed
the information given to him by Welch to the dispatcher.
Officer Carl Scott Miller ("Miller") heard the
dispatch and located the Geralds' vehicle in a parking
lot at Treesdale Apartments, which was the address associated
with the vehicle. He observed several people around the
vehicle unloading groceries, including Patricia and Tarsha.
When he "asked whose vehicle it was" and "who
was driving the car, " Patricia identified herself and
asked Miller "if this was about the crash, " to
which Miller replied "that it was about the crash."
Patricia stated that "it was her vehicle" and
"that she had been driving." After Miller asked
Patricia for her driver's license, Patricia retrieved a
state-issued identification card from a nearby vehicle and
told Miller her license was suspended for failure to pay
reinstatement fees. Tarsha told Miller "she was not
driving the vehicle when the crash occurred, but her mother
was very upset after the crash and so she drove the vehicle
home." Tarsha acknowledged her license was also
suspended. Miller relayed this information to Scopelliti and
"confirmed that [Patricia's and Tarsha's
driver's licenses] were both suspended."
Scopelliti received the information gathered by Miller,
Scopelliti contacted Patricia and Tarsha by telephone. First,
he spoke to Tarsha who admitted that she was involved in an
accident and that "she drove off after the
accident." She also claimed "she had a valid
driver's license." Scopelliti then spoke to
Patricia, who also admitted that she was involved in an
accident, though she claimed "she drove before and after
the accident" and that she had a valid driver's
on the results of his investigation, Scopelliti obtained
warrants of arrest against Patricia and Tarsha charging both
of them with operating a motor vehicle while on a suspended
license in violation of Code § 46.2-301, third or
subsequent offense. Each warrant specified that the offense
was committed on or about May 26, 2013, the date of the
accident with Welch.
Driving While Suspended Trial in General District Court
October 8, 2013, Patricia and Tarsha were tried together on
the charges of driving while their licenses were suspended,
third or subsequent offense, by the Albemarle County General
District Court. Present at trial were Scopelliti, Patricia,
Tarsha, and Welch, in addition to the Commonwealth's
Attorney and the Geralds' attorneys. The presiding
judge administered oaths to the witnesses, all of whom raised
their right hands and swore that the testimony they were
going to provide was the truth. According to Welch, he gave
the same testimony in the general district court that he did
in the circuit court.
defense of the charges of driving while their licenses were
suspended on or about May 26, 2013, Patricia and Tarsha both
denied driving when they testified on direct-examination.
Because there was no court reporter in the general district
court, the specific answers given by Patricia and Tarsha
during their cross-examinations were introduced at the later
circuit court proceedings through Scopelliti, who was present
when Patricia and Tarsha testified. According to Scopelliti,
the Commonwealth had a copy of Miller's investigative
notes and "[would] read a sentence from Officer
Miller's notes and ask [each] defendant to acknowledge or
deny the sentence." Scopelliti also had a copy of
Miller's notes, and at the request of the
Commonwealth's Attorney, took "very specific
notes" of the "very specific questions" asked
by the Commonwealth.
the Commonwealth asked Patricia if she spoke to Miller
specifically regarding the accident, "[her] answer was
no." When the Commonwealth asked Patricia if
"Officer Miller asked her about her driver's license
and if she had told him that she did not have one because she
had to pay reinstatement fees, " her "answer was
no, she didn't make any of those statements." When
the Commonwealth asked Patricia "if the officer asked if
her name was Patricia Gerald and that she had been driving
the car that day, " her "answer was no." In
other words, "each question was asked by reading Officer
Miller's notes, and then [Patricia] answered no."
Scopelliti "read along with the prosecutor from Officer
Miller's notes" and "ke[pt] track of what the
prosecutor asked and what Ms. Tarsha Gerald answered."
The Commonwealth "asked Tarsha Gerald if she told
Officer Miller that she drove the car home because her mother
was too upset and could not drive, and she said no." The
Commonwealth asked Tarsha if she said "anything" to
Miller "about that she was suspended, and she said
no." The Commonwealth asked both appellants if
"they understood they were under oath" and both
"said they understood, and that, yes, they knew they
were under oath." Each appellant was asked if her
testimony was "truthful" and each appellant
"answered yes, it was truthful."
general district court found both Patricia and Tarsha guilty
of the charges of driving while on a suspended license, third
or subsequent offense, and both appealed their convictions to
the circuit court. Patricia and Tarsha were indicted for
perjury arising from their testimony at the trial in the
general district court.
Circuit Court Proceedings
and Tarsha were tried together in the circuit court on the
perjury and driving while on a suspended license charges. The
Commonwealth presented testimony from Welch, Miller, and
Scopelliti. Tarsha testified in her own defense and presented
testimony from Bianca Horne ("Horne") and Aaron
Alexander ("Alexander"). Although Tarsha called
Patricia as a witness, Patricia invoked her Fifth Amendment
privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify.
Patricia did not testify in her own defense.
claimed that Horne was driving Tarsha's vehicle at the
time of the accident. According to Tarsha, she was sitting in
the front passenger seat and Patricia was sitting in the back
seat with Patricia's boyfriend, Alexander, and
Tarsha's two children. At the time of the accident, they
were returning from Waynesboro where they had been shopping.
Tarsha testified that Welch "had hit another car, and
when Bianca tried to stop the car, it laid into . . . the
passenger side on his car." Tarsha stated that after the
accident, she exited the vehicle with Horne, Patricia, and
Alexander and gave Welch her "information, " after
which Welch told them they could leave. Tarsha claimed that
Horne drove Tarsha's vehicle to Treesdale Apartments and
that, shortly thereafter, Miller arrived and spoke with
Tarsha and Patricia. Tarsha denied speaking to Scopelliti on
denied testifying falsely in general district court.
According to Tarsha, she was asked in general district court
whether she talked with Scopelliti, not whether she talked
with Miller. Tarsha claimed that she testified in general
district court that she did speak with Miller and told him
she did not have a license, but that she did not tell him she
drove her vehicle from the accident scene to Treesdale
also claimed that Horne was driving Tarsha's vehicle at
the time of the accident. He stated that Patricia, Tarsha, and
Tarsha's children were in the vehicle and they went
grocery shopping in Waynesboro. Alexander testified that when
the accident happened, they were "at the light" and
two cars in front of them "had already crashed."
According to Alexander, Welch came to ...