Parole in Virginia


     Virginia abolished parole on January 1, 1995. That means no person who committed his criminal offense after that date is eligible for parole. On June 9, 2000, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided in Fishback v. Commonwealth, 260 Va. 104 (2000), that sentencing juries should be told that the offender would not be eligible for parole for offenses that occurred after 1995. Plainly stated, juries should know when sentencing a person that he would be required to serve the entire imposed sentence.     

     The abolition of parole combined with the Supreme Court’s decision in Fishback has resulted in a class of Virginians bound in a sentencing purgatory where they are not eligible for parole, and yet their sentencing juries may have sentenced them too harshly with the belief that they were eligible.  The Virginia legislature made right with the Fishback generation. As of July 1, 2020, a person who committed his offense before June 9, 2000 and who was sentenced by the jury in Virginia becomes eligible to be considered for parole if he is still incarcerated on July 1, 2020, when the law becomes effective. Offenders sentenced for certain offenses are not eligible under the new rule. Those disqualifying offenses include:

  • any felony punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty;

  • a felony offense against a child;

  • sex crimes such as rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, carnal knowledge or any attempts to commit those acts.

 In most cases, eligible offenders will receive a hearing before July 1, 2021.

Call the Gaines Law Firm to discuss your loved one's parole eligibility.