In Virginia, Starrs is a potential path towards a dismissal after a guilty finding
Better late than never, I am today providing a link to Starrs v. Virginia, which is this year’s most beneficial Virginia Supreme Court opinion for criminal defendants. Starrs, 287 Va. 1, 752 S.E.2d 812 (Jan. 10, 2014).
Starrs confirms that trial judges have the full authority to withhold entering a final judgment of guilt, and to amend or dismiss a criminal case at any time after a defendant is found guilty and before entering a judgment of guilt. Before Starrs, many prosecutors insisted that only certain crimes were eligible for such dispositions. Starrs takes away that argument from prosecutors.
Although Starrs’s reasoning is grounded in principles of judicial authority rather than compassion, the possible motivations for a judge to issue a Starrs-friendly disposition include avoiding unduly harsh consequences of a conviction, and motivating a defendant to do well on probation in the hopes of ultimately having the case dismissed.
Let Starrs be contagious throughout the land.