Being arrested and charged with a crime is stressful. You may be tempted not to talk about it because you’re embarrassed. However, it is crucial that you get sound advice from an experienced and seasoned Virginia criminal defense attorney.
Some charges may seem minor. However, any charge and conviction can affect your future. Even an arrest can make it more difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, or get a loan. An arrest and charge can affect your relationships and your current job position.
If this is your first offense, you might be tempted to waive your right to an attorney. You might even speak to law enforcement without legal advice or representation. However, this often works against you. An experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate with the Commonwealth and potentially get you a deferred disposition.
What Is Deferred Disposition?
In some criminal cases, the defendant is offered a deferred disposition. Virginia Code 19.2-298.02 outlines the process by which the defendant and the Commonwealth agree to defer the disposition of the charges based on meeting specific criteria.
Those criteria include:
- The defendant must enter a plea of guilty or no contest.
- The judge must then find that the facts are sufficient to have resulted in a conviction if the defendant had gone to trial.
Then, instead of entering a conviction, the judge sets aside the case and imposes conditions that must be met.
During the period determined by the judge, the defendant must meet the requirements set forth in the disposition. At the end of the period, the case is dismissed. Conditions can include restitution, alcohol or substance abuse classes, anger management classes, community service, or probation.
Eligibility for Deferred Disposition
To be eligible for deferred disposition, this must be a first offense. Although having a clean record and first offense may sound the same, there are slight differences that may make someone ineligible.
In addition to the defendant being qualified, the offense must also be eligible for deferred disposition under the law. The eligible offenses include:
- Underage Possession of Alcohol
- Possession of Drugs
- Destruction of Property
- Assault and Battery Against a Family or Household Member
- Other Misdemeanors
To get a deferred disposition, a criminal defense attorney works out an agreement with the Commonwealth. In some cases, a prosecuting attorney may offer a defendant a deferred disposition without legal representation. While someone may be tempted to take the deal without consulting an attorney, that is not wisethest choice.
When you agree to take a deferred disposition, you need to be aware of two things:
- If you do not comply with the requirements, you will be found guilty of the original charge.
- You cannot appeal that guilty finding.
What Is on My Record?
Some deferred dispositions cannot be expunged. Some can. If a deferred disposition is not expunged, a criminal record will show that someone was charged and that the charge was dismissed. However, changes to Virginia law will go into effect before 2025 that allow most, if not all, deferred dispositions to be expunged.
Before 2025, your attorney can negotiate an agreement with the Commonwealth so that the charge is eligible for expungement if you meet the requirements. However, this agreement must be included in the final disposition by the judge. In this case, once you have met the requirements for the deferred disposition, you can petition for expungement.
Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights
If you were charged with a criminal offense, or you know you’re under investigation, you want an experienced Virginia criminal defense trial lawyer at your side to protect your rights and defend your freedom. The trial lawyers at Whitestone Young have decades of experience providing client-focused, aggressive representation, and we know how to get results.
Contact our office today at 703-591-0200 24/7 for help with your criminal defense.