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Virginia criminal law allows for lifetime probation & no contact

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On September 22, 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court recounted a horror story of Minh Duy Du’s committing statutory rape against his 13 year old half sister, and then using a baseball bat to bash the heads of his father and stepmother — who tried to intervene — leaving them for what he expected to be dead. Du v. Virginia___ Va. ___ (Sept. 22, 2016).

Mr. Du entered a guilty plea to statutory rape, aggravated malicous wounding of his stepfather, and malicious wounding of his stepmother. At sentencing, the trial judge ordered an incarceration period — which I assume was a substantial period — a suspended sentence period, lifetime probation and no contact with the victims.

On appeal, Du challenged the lifetime probation order and the no-contact order. Virginia’s Court of Appeals and Supreme Court affirmed both. The Supreme Court applied the abuse of discretion standard, meaning that even for less serious crimes, trial judges will have wide leeway to impose lifetime probation.

Justice Powell was the sole justice to contest the no-contact order as to Du’s stepmother, when considering the combined facts that his three victims are the sole people with whom Vietnam-born Du has a significant bond in the United States, and that Du’s stepmother advised that she wants to have contact with him.

I am honored to defend people charged with even heinous crimes — and here is why — but I never apologize for nor applaud such criminal acts as those for which Minh Duy Du was convicted. Justice Powell does make sense in dissenting over the sentencing order’s requirement for no contact with Du’s stepmother despite her wanting to have contact with him.