Alford Plea Virginia Law

The Court have addressed the effect of an Alford plea in the context of a waiver of appeal. In Perry v. Commonwealth, 33 Va. App. 410, 533 S.E.2d 651 (2000), the Court wrote:

"Under an Alford plea, a defendant maintains innocence while entering a plea of guilty because the defendant concludes that his interests require entry of a guilty plea and the record before the court contains strong evidence of actual guilt . . . . Guilty pleas must be rooted in fact before they may be accepted.

Accordingly, courts treat Alford pleas as having the same preclusive effect as a guilty plea." Cortese v. Black, 838 F. Supp. 485, 492 (D. Colo. 1993) (citing North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 37, 91 S. Ct. 160, 167, 27 L. Ed. 2d 162 (1970)).

In Virginia, it is well settled that a voluntary and intelligent guilty plea by an accused is "'a waiver of all defenses other than those jurisdictional . . . . Where a conviction is rendered upon such a plea and the punishment fixed by law is in fact imposed in a proceeding free of jurisdictional defect, there is nothing to appeal.'" Dowell v. Commonwealth, 12 Va. App. 1145, 1148, 408 S.E.2d 263, 265 (1991) (quoting Savino v. Commonwealth, 239 Va. 534, 539, 391 S.E.2d 276, 278 (1990)), aff'd on reh'g en banc, 14 Va. App. 58, 414 S.E.2d 440 (1992).

Thus, under the circumstances of this case, by freely and intelligently entering an Alford plea to the breaking and entering charge, appellant waived his right to appeal the issue of whether the evidence was sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of that charge. Perry, 33 Va. App. at 412-13, 533 S.E.2d at 652-53.

A guilty plea further waives all preceding non-jurisdictional defects, including Fourth Amendment claims. Terry v. Commonwealth, 30 Va. App. 192, 197, 516 S.E.2d 233, 235-36 (1999) (en banc).