Virginia Code 19.2-243 Interpretation

In Robinson v. Commonwealth, 28 Va. App. 148, 502 S.E.2d 704 (1998), the Court held: Under Code 19.2-243, the Commonwealth must commence trial within five months, which "translates to 152 and a fraction days." Ballance v. Commonwealth, 21 Va. App. 1, 6, 461 S.E.2d 401, 403 (1995). The five-month period begins to run on the day after the preliminary hearing at which probable cause is found. Randolph v. Commonwealth, 22 Va. App. 334, 335, 470 S.E.2d 132, 133 (1996). Any delays that are chargeable to the defendant are subtracted from the total number of days that elapse from the day after the finding of probable cause to the commencement of trial. If the time thus calculated exceeds 152 and a fraction days, the defendant "shall be forever discharged from prosecution for such offenses." Code 19.2-243. Id. at 152, 502 S.E.2d at 706. In Williamson v. Commonwealth, 13 Va. App. 655, 659, 414 S.E.2d 609, 611 (1992), the Court held that the five-month speedy trial period did not begin until the defendant was delivered to the custody of the Virginia Beach police by North Carolina authorities. Although Williamson addresses when "arrest" occurs under the third paragraph of Code 19.2-243, it is nevertheless instructive. On September 5, 1998, Williamson was indicted in Virginia Beach Circuit Court for receiving stolen property. See Williamson, 13 Va. App. at 656, 414 S.E.2d at 610. Williamson was never arrested on the Virginia Beach indictment, but he ultimately was arrested and held in custody in Washington, North Carolina, on unrelated charges. See id. Williamson was convicted of the North Carolina charges on December 6, 1989, and was committed to the North Carolina Department of Corrections. See Williamson, 13 Va. App. at 657, 414 S.E.2d at 610. A detainer based on the Virginia Beach indictment was lodged with the North Carolina authorities on July 10, 1990. See id. On August 17, 1990, Williamson executed a formal request to return to Virginia Beach for a speedy trial pursuant to Code 53.1-210 et seq., the Interstate Agreement on Detainers. See id.