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Vernon Hill man gets third strike in DUI offense

A Vernon Hill man was sentenced to serve at least 90 days in jail after pleading guilty Thursday to a third felony DUI offense.

James Berkley Priest, 34, pleaded guilty Thursday in Halifax County Circuit Court to two charges, one for a third or subsequent offense of DWI within five to 10 years.

Priest also pleaded guilty to (on appeal) of a show cause charge for a violation of good behavior conditions regarding a second offense of DUI within five to 10 years.

Pursuant to a plea agreement with the commonwealth, the defendant stipulated evidence was sufficient to convict him of the DWI charge, and Priest stipulated the evidence was sufficient to find him in violation of good behavior conditions regarding the show cause charge.

Under terms of the plea agreement, the commonwealth moved to nol pros two misdemeanor counts against Priest, one for a first offense of refusing a blood or breath test, the second for reckless driving.

The court sentenced Priest to five years in prison for the third offense (felony) of DUI, with all suspended but seven months in jail, 90 days of which are the minimum mandatory under Virginia law, and the remainder to be served on Home Electronic Monitoring if approved.

The court revoked Priest’s previously suspended sentence of 11 months and 20 days on the show cause violation for a second offense of DUI, with any new time re-suspended.

The court additionally ordered the suspended portion of Priest’s sentence be conditioned on his good behavior for 10 years, ordered him placed on probation for one year following his release, ordered him to abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs, and it suspended his operator’s license indefinitely.

Other Court Cases

• Samuel Coleman Jr., 41 of Halifax was convicted Thursday of writing two or more bad checks within a 90 day period.
Sentencing for Coleman was continued to a date later in the current court term.

•  Robert Carlton White, 44, of Halifax pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to possess a firearm as a convicted felon.

Pursuant to a plea agreement with the commonwealth, a charge against White for misdemeanor trespassing was nol prossed.

The court sentenced White to a five-year suspended prison sentence, conditioned on the defendant’s good behavior for five years, and it ordered him placed on probation for one year.