What is Deferred Disposition for drug cases?
In some limited drug cases, Virginia allows what is called a “deferred disposition.” It means that your case can be ultimately dismissed IF you fulfill all requirements that the Commonwealth places on you. While it sounds like a great option, it comes with it’s strings attached.
What is the law?
Whenever any person who has not previously been convicted of any offense under this article or under any statute of the United States or of any state relating to narcotic drugs, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drugs, or has not previously had a proceeding against him for violation of such an offense dismissed as provided in this section, pleads guilty to or enters a plea of not guilty to possession of a controlled substance under § 18.2-250 or to possession of marijuana under § 18.2-250.1, the court, upon such plea if the facts found by the court would justify a finding of guilt, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the accused, may defer further proceedings and place him on probation upon terms and conditions. If the court defers further proceedings, at that time the court shall determine whether the clerk of court has been provided with the fingerprint identification information or fingerprints of the person, taken by a law-enforcement officer pursuant to § 19.2-390, and, if not, shall order that the fingerprints and photograph of the person be taken by a law-enforcement officer.
As a term or condition, the court shall require the accused to undergo a substance abuse assessment pursuant to § 18.2-251.01 or 19.2-299.2, as appropriate, and enter treatment and/or education program or services, if available, such as, in the opinion of the court, may be best suited to the needs of the accused based upon consideration of the substance abuse assessment. The program or services may be located in the judicial district in which the charge is brought or in any other judicial district as the court may provide. The services shall be provided by (i) a program licensed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, by a similar program which is made available through the Department of Corrections, (ii) a local community-based probation services agency established pursuant to § 9.1-174, or (iii) an ASAP program certified by the Commission on VASAP.
The court shall require the person entering such program under the provisions of this section to pay all or part of the costs of the program, including the costs of the screening, assessment, testing, and treatment, based upon the accused’s ability to pay unless the person is determined by the court to be indigent.
As a condition of probation, the court shall require the accused (a) to successfully complete treatment or education program or services, (b) to remain drug and alcohol free during the period of probation and submit to such tests during that period as may be necessary and appropriate to determine if the accused is drug and alcohol free, (c) to make reasonable efforts to secure and maintain employment, and (d) to comply with a plan of at least 100 hours of community service for a felony and up to 24 hours of community service for a misdemeanor. In addition to any community service required by the court pursuant to clause (d), if the court does not suspend or revoke the accused’s license as a term or condition of probation for a violation of § 18.2-250.1, the court shall require the accused to comply with a plan of 50 hours of community service. Such testing shall be conducted by personnel of the supervising probation agency or personnel of any program or agency approved by the supervising probation agency.
Upon violation of a term or condition, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided. Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions, and upon determining that the clerk of court has been provided with the fingerprint identification information or fingerprints of such person, the court shall discharge the person and dismiss the proceedings against him. Discharge and dismissal under this section shall be without adjudication of guilt and is a conviction only for the purposes of applying this section in subsequent proceedings.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a court places an individual on probation upon terms and conditions pursuant to this section, such action shall be treated as a conviction for purposes of §§ 18.2-259.1, 22.1-315, and 46.2-390.1, and the driver’s license forfeiture provisions of those sections shall be imposed. However, if the court places an individual on probation upon terms and conditions for a violation of § 18.2-250.1, such action shall not be treated as a conviction for purposes of § 18.2-259.1 or 46.2-390.1, provided that a court (1) may suspend or revoke an individual’s driver’s license as a term or condition of probation and (2) shall suspend or revoke an individual’s driver’s license as a term or condition of probation for a period of six months if the violation of § 18.2-250.1 was committed while such person was in operation of a motor vehicle. The provisions of this paragraph shall not be applicable to any offense for which a juvenile has had his license suspended or denied pursuant to § 16.1-278.9 for the same offense.Va. Code § 18.2-251
Do you need an attorney if you can get a deferred dispostion?
Yes, as you can tell the law on deferred dispositions in Virginia is complicated and requires a lot from you. It can be tempting to take a deferred disposition in hopes of getting your case ultimately dismissed. However, a deferred disposition also brings with it many requirements that you have to satisfy to a tee. For many defendants, it imposes heavy restrictions and can be a source of constant stress. Any probation violations can result in their own criminal charge. While it absolutely is a great option for many, you should still have an experienced criminal attorney take a look at the facts of your case to determine the best option for you.