WILLIAM C. MIMS, JUSTICE.
appeal, we consider whether the Court of Appeals erred by
affirming a trial court's denial of a continuance sought
under Code § 19.2-159.1.
BACKGROUND AND MATERIAL PROCEEDINGS BELOW
Antonio Reyes pled guilty to a single charge of robbery, in
violation of Code § 18.2-58. After a hearing, the
circuit court accepted the plea and found Reyes guilty. It
ordered a presentence report and set the case for sentencing
in May 2016.
May sentencing hearing, Roger G. Nord, Reyes's
court-appointed counsel, moved for a continuance so that
Reyes could be evaluated for eligibility for the youthful
offender program established by Code §§ 19.2-311
through -316. The Commonwealth objected because the victim
was present at the hearing to provide victim impact
testimony. The court granted a continuance to July 15.
14, Reyes filed a notice and motion through Charles J.
Swedish to substitute Swedish as counsel. Reyes asserted that
his financial condition had changed because his family had
agreed to retain Swedish, so he was no longer indigent. He
also sought a continuance pursuant to Code §
19.2-159.1. He repeated these assertions in a separate
notice and motion for continuance filed through Swedish the
July 15 hearing, the Commonwealth objected to the
continuance, noting that the victim was present again in a
second attempt to provide impact testimony. The court then
asked Swedish why he needed a continuance. Swedish explained
that Reyes' family had approached him to take over the
case. The discussion then unfolded as follows:
MR. SWEDISH: . . . . At this late date I wouldn't be
doing Mr. Reyes any justice at all if I were to step in
merely to do the sentencing today. So I'm making a motion
to continue based upon [Code § 19.2-159.1].
It basically is a change of financial circumstances. He had
court-appointed counsel before. I believe the Code section
says the [c]ourt shall grant a reasonable continuance.
That's what I'm asking for.
[Reyes] entered an Alford plea. It has also been
discussed he might want to withdraw that plea-
THE COURT: That's so unlikely as to make it insufficient
cause to continue the matter.
MR. SWEDISH: I'm just telling Your Honor why I didn't
just start filing things left and right. It wouldn't be
appropriate and I'm not prepared for anything and I'm
making the motion for the continuance. If that is granted I
would ask that my appearance be entered. If not I suppose
then the sentencing goes forward today. But I'm basing it
on the Code section that says when there is a change of
financial circumstances for somebody who is represented by
court-appointed counsel[, ] the [c]ourt shall grant a
reasonable continuance. Thank you.
THE COURT: This is to prepare for trial. That's what
19.2-159.1 means. Right, Mr. Swedish? It says trial.
MR. SWEDISH: It says trial and, you know, sometimes they use
that word "trial" to mean the day you enter a
THE COURT: I don't think so. I think the legislators know
what trial means.
MR. SWEDISH: And like I said, there is a possibility he might
seek to withdraw his plea.
THE COURT: But if that's the reason[, ] I'm concerned
about granting a continuance in this. It's just going to
delay matters. Because it's one thing to delay for the
[c]ourt to address something. I just don't find any
reasonable cause at this time[, ] having gone ...