All the Justices.
an appeal from a judgment rendered by the Court of Appeals of
Virginia No. 1023-17-3.
appeal arises from a decision of the Court of Appeals
affirming Michelle Yoder's conviction for driving after
forfeiture of her license, third offense in ten years, in
violation of Code § 18.2-272(A). Yoder contends that the
Court of Appeals erred in affirming her conviction because
the evidence was insufficient to prove that she had had
actual notice that her license was revoked on the date of the
instant offense. Yoder also claims that the Court of Appeals
did not address the link between any notice that she may have
had of prior revocations and a revocation that was current on
the date of the instant offense. We disagree with Yoder's
arguments and affirm.
appeal, we review the evidence in the 'light most
favorable' to the Commonwealth, the prevailing party in
the trial court." Commonwealth v. Perkins, 295
Va. 323, 323 (2018) (per curiam) (citation omitted).
"Viewing the record through this evidentiary prism
requires us to 'discard the evidence of the accused 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.'"
Id. at 323-24 (citation omitted).
viewed, the evidence at trial showed that on June 18, 2016, a
deputy with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office initiated
a traffic stop on a gray Toyota van because its "rear
license plate was only affixed at one screw position at an
angle which [he] thought was suspicious" and because,
when he checked the license-plate number, it came back as
registered to "a 1999 gold Buick." J.A. at 40.
Yoder was driving the vehicle with no passengers. When the
deputy approached the vehicle and asked Yoder for her
identification, she provided him with "an ID card."
Id. at 41. At this point, the deputy also noticed
that Yoder had an expired state-inspection sticker. The
deputy then checked the status of Yoder's driver's
license using the ID card that she had provided, and
Yoder's license "came back as being revoked, DUI
related." Id. "[He] then ran a driver
transcript on [his] terminal in the vehicle," which
confirmed that Yoder "had three previous
convictions." Id. The deputy then arrested
trial, the Commonwealth introduced two of Yoder's prior
convictions, entered in July 2010 and March 2014, for driving
on a revoked license in violation of Code § 18.2-272.
See J.A. at 67-68. Both conviction orders came from
the general district court and noted that Yoder had been
present in court, had pleaded guilty to the offense, and had
been found "GUILTY AS CHARGED." Id. Based
upon the 2014 conviction, Yoder was sentenced to 90 days in
jail with all but 10 days suspended. See id. at 67.
as factfinder, the trial court found Yoder guilty of driving
after forfeiture of her license, third offense in ten years,
in violation of Code § 18.2-272(A). Yoder appealed to
the Court of Appeals, which affirmed her conviction in an
unpublished opinion. See Yoder v. Commonwealth,
Record No. 1023-17-3, 2018 WL 6497086 (Va. Ct. App. Dec. 11,
2018). Specifically, the Court of Appeals found the evidence
"sufficient to support the trial court's finding
that [Yoder] had actual notice that her driving privileges
remained revoked at the time of the instant offense."
Id. at *4.
first challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support
her conviction, contending that the evidence was insufficient
to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she had had actual
notice of the continuing revoked status of her driver's
license on the date of the instant offense. Our appellate
review of such challenges follows a well-marked path:
"When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence,
'the judgment of the trial court is presumed correct and
will not be disturbed unless it is plainly wrong or without
evidence to support it.'" This Court "does not
ask itself whether it believes that the evidence at
the trial established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
"Rather, the relevant question is, upon review of the
evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution,
whether any rational trier of fact could have found
the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
Smith v. Commonwealth, 296 Va. 450, 460 (2018)
(emphases in original) (alteration and citations omitted).
Code § 18.2-272(A) states, in relevant part, that
"[a]ny person who drives or operates any motor vehicle .
. . during the time for which he was deprived of the right to
do so" for various specified offenses, "after his
license has been revoked pursuant to" various specified
statutes, or "in violation of the terms of a restricted
license . . . is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor," while
"[a]ny person convicted of three violations of this
section committed within a 10-year period is guilty of a
Class 6 felony." A conviction under this statute
requires a showing "that the defendant had actual notice
that he no longer had the privilege to drive in the
Commonwealth when the offense occurred," Peters v.
Commonwealth, 66 Va.App. 743, 746 (2016), but the
statute does not require any particular form of notice and
does not mandate any degree of specificity for such notice.
requisite notice can be inferred from the circumstances and
need only be enough to show that the driver knew he was
driving without any legal "right to do so," Code
§ 18.2-272(A). See Peters, 66 Va.App. at 750
("The evidence and reasonable inferences from the
evidence prove that the appellant had actual notice that his
license had been ...