No Plea and Charge Dismissed: Now, Can It Get Expunged?

Consider a common scenario in Virginia criminal courts.

The defendant appears in court, and the prosecutor offers to continue the case while the defendant meets certain conditions, such as community service and good behavior. The defendant agrees, no plea is entered, and the case is continued.

After a certain period of time, the charge is dismissed by the prosecutor.

Under Virginia law, can the dismissed charge be expunged and permanently sealed, so that the defendant can protect his record?

The answer is likely yes, according to a recent case.

Supreme Court of Virginia Expunges Deferred Dismissal of Charge

In Brown v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 92 (2009), the petitioner was charged with a crime and appeared in court. Rather than plead guilty, the charge was taken under advisement while he performed certain tasks, including community service. He never entered a plea. The court never made a finding of facts sufficient for guilt. The case was simply taken under advisement, and after a period of time, it was dismissed.

The Supreme Court of Virginia held that the charge could be expungement and the petitioner’s criminal record permanently sealed because the charge was “otherwise dismissed” under Virginia’s expungement law. Since the the petitioner never plead guilty to the charge – rather, it was just taken under advisement – he was allowed to later get it removed to clean up his record.

This was a great result for the petitioner, who was able to protect his criminal record, his reputation, and his career. With the charge permanently sealed, he could feel confident applying for jobs, knowing that the charge would not come up on a background check.

Do You Quality for Expungement?

If you need help getting a charge expunged from your record in order to protect your reputation and career, contact a Virginia expungement lawyer to see if you qualify.