Recently, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld a judge's inherent authority to defer, amend or dismiss a defendant's charge after accepting the defendant's plea and finding facts sufficient for guilt. This is a very important case for those charged with criminal offenses in Virginia. It means that, in some limited cases, a judge can provide an alternative to a conviction in cases where guilt could be proven if a trial were held.
This is a very contentious issue in Virginia because the Government has taken the position that, unless allowed clearly by law, a judge lacks this inherent authority. It's likely that the state law makers will see new bills being proposed that explicitly state judges lack this authority.
In my view, for our judicial system to work, judges need this inherent authority because legislatures cannot foresee every set of facts in each case and to bind the hands of a judge is inherently unjust. Every case is different and should be reviewed with full consideration.
You can check out the article at the link below. And if you've been charged with a crime here in Virginia, and you'd like to discuss your case (or you have questions about Starrs v. Commonwealth), feel free to give me a call.
James S. Abrenio