RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — For the first time in more than 200 years, criminal defendants in Virginia will have the option to be sentenced by judges instead of juries. A bill recently passed by the legislature brings Virginia in line with the vast majority of other U.S. states.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign the measure soon.
The proposal sparked fierce debate during a special legislative session focused on criminal justice and police reform. Supporters of the change said giving judges the sentencing responsibility will result in fairer sentences. But prosecutors predicted it will result in more jury trials and require additional judges, court clerks and public defenders.
- Texas deputy AG apologizes to Simone Biles after calling her ‘childish’ and ‘selfish’
- Reigning BMX gold medalist Connor Fields stretchered off
- Fully vaccinated North Carolina couple who got COVID-19 have message for others
- Navy: Sailor suspected of starting fire that destroyed ship on San Diego Bay
- Florida 7-year-old shot by younger sibling while caregiver slept, deputies say