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General Assembly approves Deferred Dispositions

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Virginia may get deferred dispositions

Lawmakers approved Deferred Dispositions in Virginia on October 7, 2020. A deferred disposition, similar to a suspended imposition of sentence, or probation before judgment (PBJ) allows the Court to accept a guilty or no contest plea, but withhold a finding of guilty. The Court can then set a series of terms and conditions that, if complied with, will result in the dismissal of the charge. This will allow the Court to use its discretion and avoid adverse criminal convictions on a person’s record. When signed by the Governor, this legislation can help many criminal defendants avoid convictions.

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§ 19.2-298.02. Deferred disposition in a criminal case.  

  1. A trial court presiding in a criminal case may, with the agreement of the defendant and the Commonwealth, after any plea or trial, with or without a determination, finding, or pronouncement of guilt, and notwithstanding the entry of a conviction order, upon consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, including (i) mitigating factors relating to the defendant or the offense, (ii) the request of the victim, or (iii) any other appropriate factors, defer proceedings, defer entry of a conviction order, if none, or defer entry of a final order, and continue the case for final disposition, on such reasonable terms and conditions as may be agreed upon by the parties and placed on the record, or if there is no agreement, as may be imposed by the court. Final disposition may include (a) conviction of the original charge, (b) conviction of an alternative charge, or (c) dismissal of the proceedings. 
  2. Upon violation of a term or condition, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt, if not already entered, and make any final disposition of the case provided by subsection A. Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions, the court shall adjudicate the matter consistent with the agreement of the parties or, if none, by conviction of an alternative charge or dismissal of the case. 
  3. By consenting to and receiving a deferral of proceedings or a deferral of entry of a final order of guilt and fulfilling the conditions as specified by the court as provided by subsection A, the defendant waives his right to appeal such entry of a final order of guilt. Prior to granting a deferral of proceedings, a deferral of entry of a conviction order, if none, or a  deferral of a final order, the court shall notify the defendant that he would be waiving his rights to appeal any final order of guilt if such deferral is granted. 
  4. Upon agreement of all parties, a charge that is dismissed pursuant to this section may be considered as otherwise dismissed for purposes of expungement of police and court records in accordance with § 19.2-392.2, and such agreement of all parties and expungement eligibility shall be indicated in the final disposition order. 

§ 19.2-303.4. Payment of costs when proceedings deferred and the defendant placed on probation. 

A circuit or district court, which has deferred further proceedings, without entering a judgment of guilt, and placed a defendant on probation subject to terms and conditions pursuant to § 4.1-305, 16.1-278.8, 16.1-278.9, 18.2-57.3, 18.2-61, 18.2-67.1, 18.2-67.2, 18.2-251, 19.2-298.02, 19.2-303.2, or 19.2-303.6 shall impose upon the defendant costs. 

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