What is a deferred disposition?
In some criminal cases in Virginia, if it is your first offense, you may have a chance at getting your case dismissed through what is called a deferred disposition. In a deferred disposition you will first enter your plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Then, the judge will make a finding that there are facts sufficient to find you guilty of the crime accused if you had gone to trial. The judge then does not enter the conviction on your record. Instead, the judge will set aside your case for a length of time. The judge will then impose upon you some conditions, such as probation, uniform good behavior, restitution, community service, alcohol or substance abuse classes. Once you complete this probationary period and the requirements set forth by the court, your case will be dismissed.
What types of cases can you get a deferred disposition for?
- Destruction of Property
- Assault & Battery
- Underage possession of Alcohol
- Petit larceny
- Drunk in public
What happens to my criminal record after the case is dismissed?
Your criminal record will show that at some point you were charged with a crime and then it was dismissed. While the records will show that you do NOT have a conviction, it will show the arrest record. You also cannot get these charges expunged in Virginia.
Should you hire an attorney if you can just accept a deferred disposition?
Yes, while a deferred disposition might be available for the cases mentioned above, it is not a guarantee. It is still something a prosecutor has to be convinced of.
Also, while you were able to avoid a conviction, you cannot get the records expunged as there was a finding of guilt by the Courts. Because of this, it is extremely important that you think through all factors of your case, including immigration and clearance issues, before accepting a deferred disposition. Have an experienced criminal defense attorney take a look at all facts of your case and the impact a deferred disposition can have on all areas of your life before you choose to accept it.