The consequences of a criminal conviction in Virginia can be life-altering not just because of a criminal sentence handed down by the courts but also because of the criminal record that a conviction or guilty plea inspires. The state will report the record of someone’s arrest and conviction to parties including educational institutions, landlords and employers that choose to run background checks.
A criminal record can cause challenges for those hoping to improve their lives after a mistake. For many individuals accused of violating Virginia state statutes, the possibility of a criminal record is their biggest concern related to their recent arrest. These are some of the ways that someone who is facing criminal charges in Virginia can potentially avoid a criminal record.
Seek and qualify for deferred adjudication
There are several alternative court systems in Virginia that can work with those accused of a crime instead of just speaking to punish them. The drug courts are a perfect example. The courts will require an extended commitment on the part of the defendant, who will have to attend frequent hearings and meetings in addition to submitting to randomized drug testing. Provided that someone who qualifies for deferred adjudication completes all of the requirements set by the courts, they can move on with their lives afterward without a conviction showing up during any background check performed by third parties.
Get help fighting against criminal charges
Not everyone qualifies for the specialty courts or deferred adjudication, and even those that do may feel strongly about essentially pleading guilty to make use of those courts. When there is evidence supporting someone’s claim that they are innocent or when there are issues with the state’s evidence connecting someone to criminal activity, it may be possible for them to partner with a defense attorney and successfully avoid a criminal conviction.
Either by convincing the courts to dismiss the charges or securing a not-guilty verdict, defendants can avoid a lifelong criminal record. Either solution will generally require commitment to one’s defense and an understanding of one’s options under Virginia law. Making thoughtful choices in response to a recent arrest can have a profound impact on someone’s future and may protect them from a criminal record.