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Hall v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Virginia

December 20, 2018

TERRANCE KEVIN HALL
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

          FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA

          PRESENT: Lemons, C.J., Goodwyn, Mims, McClanahan, Kelsey, and McCullough, JJ., and Millette, S.J.

          OPINION

          LEROY F. MILLETTE, JR. SENIOR JUSTICE

         This appeal concerns the so-called "safety valve" provision of Code § 18.2-248(C), providing for relief from mandatory sentences when the defendant truthfully provides all information and evidence concerning his offense to the Commonwealth "[n]ot later than the time of the sentencing hearing." In the instant case, the defendant provided the information immediately prior to the sentencing hearing, and the trial court determined that such motion was untimely and declined to rule on the merits. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse and remand.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

         Terrance Kevin Hall pled guilty to three counts of distribution of cocaine, second or subsequent offense, subject to the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions of Code § 18.2-248, and two counts of distribution of cocaine in a school zone. Sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. on February 22, 2017.

         On the morning of sentencing, Hall filed a motion pursuant to the safety valve provision of Code § 18.2-248(C), which provides potential relief from mandatory minimum sentences, according to the following terms:

The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be imposed for a violation of this subsection shall not be applicable if the court finds that:
a. The person does not have a prior conviction for an offense listed in subsection C of § 17-805;
b. The person did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense or induce another participant in the offense to do so;
c. The offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person;
d. The person was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise as defined in subsection I; and
e. Not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the person has truthfully provided to the Commonwealth all information and evidence the person has concerning the offense or offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan, but the fact that the person has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Commonwealth already is aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement.

Code ยง 18.2-248(C) (emphasis added). Hall attached to his motion a two-page, handwritten disclosure, which, according to the transcript, the Commonwealth ...


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