McDonnells face 20 years, but will likely serve less

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - How much time will the McDonnells serve? There's the potential for each of them to be behind bars for more than two decades.

Sentencing is January 6, and Bob and Maureen McDonnell face 20 years max for each corruption charge. Not only that, but also more than a million in fines.

The McDonnells sat in court Thursday, horrified that they could now head to prison, but the chance that they'll pay up and serve time for decades is slim.

"The reality is, each of these defendants will probably be sentenced to much less than 20 years," said former U.S. Attorney Chuck James.

The avalanche of convictions, 11 for Bob and nine for Maureen, could also be served consecutively, but James says that's a small possibility as well.

"They can go one after the other - that is, you serve 20 years on count one, 20 years on count two, followed by 20 more years on count three... that is highly unlikely on these facts."

After spending an estimated $1 million on their legal team, the McDonnells now face more than a million in federal fines.

"Those fines can in fact be waived, if a determination is made that either defendant is unable to make those payments," said James.

As for what happens next, the jury is done. The McDonnell's fate, for now, is in the hands of a probation officer.

"This matter's going to be referred to a probation officer, who will conduct an interview of each of the defendants," said James.

That interview will decide how harsh the sentence will be when it's handed down four months from now.

At one time, there was a plea deal in the works months ago - where McDonnell would plead guilty to one felony, and his wife would face no charges. They thought they could beat this, but now the attention turns to the appeal, happening after the January 6 sentencing.

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