Virginia Criminal Law: First Offender Programs

Have you been caught and charged with a crime? Awaiting your court hearing can be an emotional and challenging time for everyone. Virginia law can be harsh on people charged with a crime. Most crimes carry with them at least some amount of jail time.

However, if this is the first time you have been charged with a crime, you may be eligible for one of Virginia’s many first offender or deferred sentencing programs.

Drug Related Offenses

Have you been charged with possession of a controlled substance? 

If you were charged with simple possession of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, you may be eligible for Virginia’s First Offender Program. This program is designed to help people with substance abuse problems.

If you qualify for the program, then you may not have to serve any jail time so long as you comply with the terms set out by the judge. Common terms include community service, educational programs about the dangers of drug use, and court fines.

Failure to complete any one of these conditions may result in a jail sentence being given to you. The length of the sentence typically depends on the reason for your failure to comply with your program.

Domestic Violence Related Charges

If you were charged with domestic violence, you may be eligible for another of Virginia’s First Offender Programs. There are several requirements to be eligible for the program including, but not limited to, having been an adult at the time of the offense and having not been convicted of a prior domestic violence crime or a similar violent crime.

The benefits of the domestic violence first offender program is that you can often avoid jail time. You may have to take anger management classes, pay court costs, and be on good behavior for a period of one year.

Other Types of Crimes

Have you been charged with a different type of crime such as drunk in public or disorderly conduct? Virginia judges have a wide variety of options available to them in terms of handling cases. Judges have the option of deferring any of your charges for the purposes of providing you an opportunity to get better. These options, however, are not formal programs and are largely up to the discretion of the Judge.

Why You Need a Lawyer

If your charge falls outside of drug or domestic related offenses, then you need a lawyer to advocate on your behalf to determine the best possible outcome for your case. A lawyer can help by attempting to convince the judge that jail time is not appropriate in your case. If you have been caught with a crime, immediately consult an attorney for more information about Virginia’s first offender programs.