Diversion Program

Deferred Prosecution - Suspended Sentence

A diversion program, generally, is any type of agreement between the prosecution and the defendant that allows the defendant to have the case dismissed without going to trial. Many diversion programs impose requirements on the defendant, including fines, restitution, community service, anger management, drug testing, job training, and/or education in order to obtain a dismissal of the charge. Unlike many other jurisdictions, it is virtually impossible to get a criminal conviction expunged from your record in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The types of diversionary programs available depends on the jurisdiction.

A Deferred Prosecution Agreement may be an option with the minimal conditions of avoiding new arrests during the period of diversion, and may include some additional requirements depending on the particular charge.

One type of non-trial diversion program in Virginia is called a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS).

Unlike a straight deferred prosecution, the defendant needs to enter a guilty plea under an SIS. The court simply delays entering the guilty plea into the record to give the defendant an opportunity to perform whatever conditions have been agreed to with the government. In the case of a public intoxication charge, for example, the defendant may be required to perform 24 hours of community service. While an SIS has the same effect as a deferred prosecution, should the defendant succeed in completing the required conditions (dismissal of the charges), people considering entering into such an agreement should note two important differences. First, although successful completion of the SIS does not result in a conviction on the person’s criminal record, the acknowledgement of guilt would be considered a conviction for immigration purposes. Second, the person should be aware that he is waiving his right to trial by entering into the agreement. If the person subsequently violates any condition of the agreement, the court can simply enter the guilty plea into the record, thereby resulting in a criminal conviction.