Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell is accompanied by her legal team and journalists before entering the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Aug. 26 in Richmond. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Prosecutors on Friday asked that former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell be sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, while defense attorneys countered that 4,000 hours of community service — and no time behind bars — would be more appropriate.

In evening filings, the parties painted dueling pictures of the former governor’s wife. By prosecutors’ account, Maureen McDonnell “unhesitatingly participated in the scheme to sell the Governor’s office to satisfy her desire for a luxurious lifestyle” and showed no remorse for her crimes.

By her attorneys’ telling, Maureen McDonnell was thrust “into a role that she did not want” and “suffered both mentally and emotionally as she struggled to cope with the pressures of her position and the public scrutiny that came with it.”

“It was in that context,” her attorneys wrote, “that Maureen made the mistakes in judgment that tragically led to this case.”

The former first lady and her husband, Robert F. McDonnell, were convicted of lending the prestige of the governor’s office to Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in exchange for $177,000 in loans, gifts and luxury goods. Robert McDonnell (R) was sentenced last month to two years in prison — a penalty far more lenient than what prosecutors had sought, though still more severe than his own request for 6,000 hours of community service.

He is appealing the case and has been allowed to remain free on bond while that process runs its course.

Maureen McDonnell’s attorneys argued she should be given the same privilege if she is sentenced to any prison time. Her sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 20.

In their filing, prosecutors wrote that an 18-month sentence was appropriate for Maureen McDonnell largely because of the leniency U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer showed her husband. They conceded that the public official in a bribery case should generally receive a more severe sentence but noted, “A colorable argument could be made that Mrs. McDonnell should receive the same sentence as her husband given her central role in all that happened and her attempts to conceal her crimes from law enforcement.”

Maureen McDonnell is not considered a public official.

Defense attorneys said that Maureen McDonnell was a dutiful wife and mother who helped launch her husband’s political career by knocking on doors during his campaigns and tending to their children when he was away. They said that she had suffered enough from her trial and conviction and that she should be given some credit for her husband’s many accomplishments.

“Governor McDonnell could never have pursued public service with such gusto without Maureen McDonnell keeping their home and family in one piece,” they wrote. “Mrs. McDonnell put aside her reservations and misgivings and never stood in the way of Mr. McDonnell’s public service because she knew their sacrifice was for the greater good, even knowing the toll it would take on the family.”

Both Robert and Maureen McDonnell’s attorneys had argued at their trial that their marriage was broken; that situation, the defense said, prevented them from conspiring together to solicit Williams’s largesse. Maureen McDonnell’s defense attorneys hinted at that theme in their filings, saying that Robert McDonnell’s ever increasing political ambitions caused his wife significant stress. That stress, they wrote, “boiled over when she moved into the Executive Mansion.”

Maureen McDonnell’s attorneys suggested that the former first lady could perform her community service at Mary’s Shelter, a Fredericksburg transition home for pregnant mothers who would otherwise be homeless.By the U.S. probation office’s calculation, federal sentencing guidelines call for her to receive between 5 and 6  1/2 years in prison. Her attorneys argued the range should have been calculated as two years and nine months to three years and five months, though they asked for a sentence of even less than that.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, a spokesman for Robert McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell’s lead attorney declined to comment for this story.