Showing posts from August, 2018

Troubling Virginia Case Allows "Legal Fiction Plea"

On July 20, 2018, a court in Fairfax County, Virginia, approved of a " legal fiction plea ."  The decision, from the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of Virginia, begins with the following explanation of the issue and its holding: The issue before this Court is whether a criminal defendant may knowingly plead guilty to a crime that he factually did not commit, and whether the Court can convict him based on such a plea.  This Court refers to such pleas as "legal fiction pleas," and holds that a defendant may enter such a plea as part of a plea agreement to avoid a potential conviction of a more serious crime or imposition of a worse sentence.  As long as a defendant fully understands that he could not otherwise be convicted of the lesser crime and asserts that he is entering the plea nonetheless for his own perceived benefit, courts should accept such pleas.  It is worth noting that, according to the court, Virginia generally does not require "the introduction o