What’s a Deferred Disposition?
Yea, what the heck is a deferred disposition? Well, I mentioned it in my previous post, but didn’t really explain what it is about.
The definition of “deferred” according to the Oxford Dictionary is “put off”. Basically, the action of a criminal case in this context, the final ruling or disposition is deferred or put off to a later date. Why would it be put off? Well, often times, if the charge they are facing is not particularly heinous and it is the person’s first time then a judge can put off the case so that the person could perform some tasks. Typically things such as educational classes, community service, payment of costs, etc. would be given to the individual and the case is deferred for several weeks or months so that the tasks can be completed. And if everything is done by the deferred date, the charge would be dismissed.
Why is this significant? Well, if it was someone’s first time for only certain crimes, the person could do a deferred disposition under that law but couldn’t get it expunged if after all the tasks were completed and the charge was dismissed.
The Virginia’s legislature made a fix. They came up with a new law that allows deferred dispositions for pretty much any criminal charge. It’s now called VA Code 19.2-298.02 and you can read it here: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/19.2-298.02/. This new law allows for any charge, even murder to be deffered for a proscribed period of time with tasks in exchange for the charge to be dropped.
Essentially, the prosecutor and defense attorney can come to that agreement and present it to the judge. While the new law went into effect three months ago on March 1, 2021, I’ve been fortunate to have used it 3 times. An example of one time I used it is where my client had a petit larceny case where the theft of goods from Walmart was under $100. The item was resellable by the store, she was polite with the loss prevention officers and the police when confronted with the theft and she had no record. Now you see? It won’t work for everyone, but when you think about it, this new law makes sense because it allows for a charge to be dismissed if it seems like it’s the best thing to do and that’s what the prosecutor and defense attorney want for the case to be handled.
The icing or rather the cherry on top is that the charge can be expunged unlike other first time offender programs.