New Virginia Law Dismissing Larceny – Theft Crimes, Effective July 1, 2020
The 2020 General Assembly Legislative Session produced dramatic changes in long standing protocols in Virginia’s Criminal Courts. So much so, that even an experienced Larceny Lawyer Fairfax Virginia has to concentrate to understand all the changes that occurred just on Grand Larceny and Petit Larceny laws.
Besides the felony threshold (the amount of money one must steal to be subjected to a felony) going from $200 in 2018 to $500 in 2019 to $1000 in 2020, ways a defendant can have first offense cases dismissed dramatically changed.
There are offenses which the Virginia Code allows to be dismissed by a process called “Deferred Disposition.” This is where the case is continued for 6 months to one year and if the defendant fulfills all the obligations of the statute and the Judge (e.g. usually a certain amount of community service, restitution, no further arrests and often some type of class or counseling) the case is dismissed. The criminal record will say, “Charged with X – Dismissed.” There are a number of charges that a “Deferred Disposition” is allowed under the Virginia Code. Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, Possession of Marijuana, Assault & Battery on a Family member, and Trespass are the four most common. Most Courts only allow “Deferred Dispositions” for cases on which the Virginia Code allows. However, in a few jurisdictions, a creative Larceny Lawyer Fairfax Virginia may argue that a Judge has the inherent power as a Judge to do a Deferred Disposition, even if the statute does not specifically say it is available. But this has become increasingly rare.
In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly added to the list of charges that can be dismissed via the Deferred Dismissal program, larceny charges. This is surprising because for decades the General Assembly refused to add larceny to the Deferred Disposition list. (Note: Most prosecutors’ offices had a system by which first offenders on Petit Larceny charges could do community service, restitution, take a class and if there were no further violations the prosecutor would “nolle prossequi” – Latin for “not prosecute” – the case. This was done on motion of the Prosecutor and not through the Court. So, this was not truly a “Deferred Disposition.” Rather it was the prosecutor, the defendant, and the defendant’s attorney entering a Plea Agreement that if certain things were done, the Prosecutor would “nolle prosequi” the charge. All the Judge did in this situation was accept the “nolle prosequi” which is a routine procedure. The deal was a “side dealt” between the prosecutor and the Larceny Lawyer Fairfax Virginia.
Basically, for any person who has no felony record, if the defendant is charged with a Petit Larceny, that charge can be dismissed by the Court upon certain conditions. The statute mentions “restitution,” but is silent on other conditions. The most common are as follows: “being on good behavior” (e.g. no further charges), counseling, classes relating to the type of crime, and community service (usually about 50 hours in Fairfax Court, Arlington Court, Alexandria Court, Loudoun Court, Prince William Court and most other Northern Virginia Courts.) The process is going to Court and being interviewed to assure eligibility. (Usually the only criteria is that the defendant has no felony convictions.) The case is then reset for about 6 months to a year. The defendant comes back on that date and if he/she has met all the conditions, the case is dismissed.
There is one very important difference between this Deferred Disposition for Larceny and other types of Deferred Dispositions. From my reading of this statute, it can be used over and over and over. Most Deferred Disposition statutes have a requirement: “the person has not previously had a proceeding against him for violation of such an offense dismissed as provided in this section.” I do not see such a section in this statute. Thus, there is no limit to how many times this could be used by a Larceny Lawyer Fairfax Virginia. Practically speaking, though, I doubt a Court would give a person multiple Deferred Dispositions. The whole point of it is to give people a “second chance.” The Court is doing this because it hopes the defendant “learned his lesson.” So, this is not a third, fourth or fifth chance. I could see it being given multiple times where there was a decade + between offense and the first offense was when someone was 18 or 19.
Here is the new law. Remember that strikethroughs indicate words that are stricken from the existing law and italics are new words being added to existing law.
§ 19.2-303.2. Persons charged with first offense may be placed on probation.
Whenever any person who has not previously been
convicted of any felony pleads guilty to or enters a plea of not guilty to any
crime against property constituting a misdemeanor, under
ArticlesArticle 3 (§ 18.2-95et seq.), 5(§ 18.2-119et seq.) except for a
violation of § 18.2-130or 18.2-130.1, 6(§ 18.2-137et seq.), 7 and(§ 18.2-144et seq.), or 8(§ 18.2-153et seq.) of Chapter 5 (§ 18.2-119 et seq.) of Title 18.2, 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 subject to terms and conditions,
which may include restitution for losses caused, set by the court. If the court
defers further proceedings for an offense that is required to be reported to
the Central Criminal Records Exchange pursuant to § 19.2-390,
at that time the court shall determine whether the clerk of court has been
provided with the fingerprint identification information or fingerprints of the
accused, taken by a law-enforcement officer pursuant to § 19.2-390,
and, if not, shall order that the fingerprints and photograph of the accused be
taken by a law-enforcement officer. 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 for an offense that is required to
be reported to the Central Criminal Records Exchange pursuant to § 19.2-390,
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 purpose of applying this section in
While the goal of a good Criminal Lawyer Fairfax County Virginia is to have a charge dropped by the Prosecutor or go to trial and win, sometimes winning is not possible. In that case, this Deferred Disposition law gives a Larceny Lawyer Fairfax Virginia a way to get his/her client’s charged dismissed even if the Prosecutor will win a trial.
Contact the office of Dave Albo – Attorney for more information.