Ansell v. Com., No. 780377

Docket NºNo. 780377
Citation250 S.E.2d 760, 219 Va. 759
Case DateJanuary 12, 1979
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

Page 760

250 S.E.2d 760
219 Va. 759
John Robert ANSELL
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Record No. 780377.
Supreme Court of Virginia.
Jan. 12, 1979.

Page 761

[219 Va. 760] Harvey E. White, Jr., John L. Deal, Norfolk (White, Reynolds, Smith & Winters, Norfolk, on brief), for appellant.

Robert H. Herring, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen. (Marshall Coleman, Atty. Gen., on brief), for appellee.

Before I'ANSON, C. J., and CARRICO, HARRISON, COCHRAN, HARMAN, POFF and COMPTON, JJ.

COCHRAN, Justice.

In this appeal, the question for our determination is whether the enhanced punishment provision of Code § 18.2-53.1 1 applies to three separate offenses committed on the same day and tried together.

Appellant, John Robert Ansell, pleaded guilty in the court below to two indictments for robbery, one indictment for attempted robbery, and three indictments for use or display of a firearm in the commission of the primary felonies in violation of Code § 18.2-[219 Va. 761] 53.1. All six offenses occurred within a period of 45 minutes on June 4, 1977. The trial court, finding Ansell guilty of each offense, sentenced him to serve in the state penitentiary for specified periods of time, not herein challenged, for the primary felonies, and for periods of one year on the first indictment under § 18.2-53.1, and three years each on the second and third indictments thereunder. Ansell argues that the court erred in applying the enhanced punishment provision of the statute to offenses committed prior to his first conviction, and that each of the sentences imposed upon him pursuant to § 18.2-53.1 should have been for only one year.

As the statute in question is penal in nature, it must be strictly construed and any ambiguity or reasonable doubt as to its meaning must be resolved in Ansell's favor. Cheatham v. Commonwealth, 215 Va. 286, 208 S.E.2d 760 (1974); Johnson v. Commonwealth, 211 Va. 815, 180 S.E.2d 661 (1971). This does not mean, however, that Ansell is entitled to a favorable result based upon an unreasonably restrictive interpretation of the statute. See Wesley v. Commonwealth, 190 Va. 268, 275-76, 56 S.E.2d 362, 365 (1949).

Ansell says that § 18.2-53.1 is analogous to the general recidivist statute, § 53-296, which provides additional punishment, on a graduated scale, for inmates of the state penal facilities who have been sentenced and confined previously in a penitentiary for the commission of other felonies. We have stated that the purposes of the recidivist statute are to protect society against habitual criminals and to impose further punishment upon them. Wesley v. Commonwealth, supra, 190 Va. at 276, 56 S.E.2d at 365. Moreover, the general rule is that the prior conviction must precede the commission of the primary offense in order to activate the enhanced punishment provision

Page 762

under habitual criminal statutes. Annot., 24 A.L.R.2d 1247, 1249 (1952). However, proceedings under § 53-296 are not criminal in nature, but are statutory proceedings in which a determination is made whether the records of the alleged prior crimes exist and the prisoner is the person who was convicted of those crimes. If these requirements are satisfied, additional punishment may be imposed because the former punishment failed to...

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  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 1734-03-4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • August 9, 2005
    ...§ 53-296). By that time, the legislature had enacted several crime-specific recidivism statutes.3 See generally Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 762, 250 S.E.2d 760, 762 (1979). And, to a one, each such statute has been interpreted by Virginia courts to allow recidivism evidence to be p......
  • Ghameshlouy v. Com., Record No. 1882-07-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • May 5, 2009
    ...intent expressed therein," Armstrong v. Commonwealth, 263 Va. 573, 581, 562 S.E.2d 139, 144 (2002) (quoting Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 761, 250 S.E.2d 760, 761 Virginia Beach Municipal Code § 23-7.1 states: It shall be unlawful and a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person at a public ......
  • Winston v. Com., Record No. 040686
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 5, 2004
    ...offender. We disagree. In Flythe v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 832, 834-35, 275 S.E.2d 582, 583-84 (1981) (citing Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 763, 250 S.E.2d 760, 763 (1979)), we held that a defendant could be convicted and sentenced for more than one charge under Code § 18.2-53.1 even ......
  • Hines v. Commonwealth , Record No. 0228–11–2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 14, 2012
    ...intent expressed therein.” Armstrong v. Commonwealth, 263 Va. 573, 581, 562 S.E.2d 139, 144 (2002) (quoting Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 761, 250 S.E.2d 760, 761 (1979)). Upon conviction under Code § 18.2–53.1, a defendant “shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonm......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
90 cases
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 1734-03-4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • August 9, 2005
    ...§ 53-296). By that time, the legislature had enacted several crime-specific recidivism statutes.3 See generally Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 762, 250 S.E.2d 760, 762 (1979). And, to a one, each such statute has been interpreted by Virginia courts to allow recidivism evidence to be p......
  • Ghameshlouy v. Com., Record No. 1882-07-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • May 5, 2009
    ...intent expressed therein," Armstrong v. Commonwealth, 263 Va. 573, 581, 562 S.E.2d 139, 144 (2002) (quoting Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 761, 250 S.E.2d 760, 761 Virginia Beach Municipal Code § 23-7.1 states: It shall be unlawful and a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person at a public ......
  • Winston v. Com., Record No. 040686
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • November 5, 2004
    ...offender. We disagree. In Flythe v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 832, 834-35, 275 S.E.2d 582, 583-84 (1981) (citing Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 763, 250 S.E.2d 760, 763 (1979)), we held that a defendant could be convicted and sentenced for more than one charge under Code § 18.2-53.1 even ......
  • Hines v. Commonwealth , Record No. 0228–11–2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • February 14, 2012
    ...intent expressed therein.” Armstrong v. Commonwealth, 263 Va. 573, 581, 562 S.E.2d 139, 144 (2002) (quoting Ansell v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 759, 761, 250 S.E.2d 760, 761 (1979)). Upon conviction under Code § 18.2–53.1, a defendant “shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonm......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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