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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I got a Class 4 Misdemeanor for Drunk in Public in Virginia.

Resolved Question:

I got a Class 4 Misdemeanor for Drunk in Public in Virginia. I'm 21 and a college student. I have not yet reached my court date and have a few questions:

1) Do I still have a chance to convince the prosecution to dismiss charges?
2) If I do get charged, and pay the fine, what are the implications for me if:
a) I want to get a job at a Fortune 500 company like shell
b) I want to work abroad, eg Hongkong or London (do i have to disclose my misdemeanor to them?)
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Jacustomer,

You've already done the best thing for yourself that you could have done, and that was to contact a lawyer and have him work something out with the prosecutor. A class 4 misdemeanor in Virginia is a very low level offense. It only has a civil penalty, which means that if your lawyer can't convince the prosecutor to dismiss this or to give you an opportunity to come out of this in some other way without a criminal record, such as a diversion program, you could go to trial on the case if you have a defense and not be risking anything more than the maximum fine of $250.

Unless you got an acquittal after trial or the defense decided not to prosecute, you would not be eligible for an expungement in Virginia. (See link to a plain English version of Virginia's Expungement Law) But if you could get it expunged, that would give you the right to lawfully deny that you'd ever been convicted of a crime and Virginia says it would keep that secret unless you went looking for a career in law enforcement. But that's going to be up to your lawyer.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
thank your for your reply, I was however more concerned with the second part of the question - working abroad and my record here, could you please shed some light on that?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 3 years ago.
Jacustomer,

Best case scenario -- you get this matter dismissed outright or you go to trial on it (assuming you have a defense and a sympathic judge) and you get a dismissal. In either case, Virginia will expunge your record, you will not be required to disclose it for purposes of employment here or abroad, and there would be no problem. You could honestly say that you have no criminal record, because Virginia would keep your secret so long as you didn't get rearrested or go looking for a job in law enforcement.

Next best scenario -- you do some community service, pay some fines, have a period of unsupervised probation and then the case is dismissed if you get in no further trouble. That's not expungeable in Virginia. So you couldn't say you had no criminal record. But you would still be able to say that you have no criminal convictions, as that would be true. And while the charge would turn up on your record, it would be there as a dismissal. Most employers only ask about convictions, and you'd have none. Whether you'd get hired by a top firm in or out of the country, with or without a dismissal is nothing anyone could predict, but as it's not a conviction, it shouldn't really hurt your chances.

Worst case scenario. You have a conviction for a class 4 misdemeanor of being drunk in public, and you would be expected to disclose it if you were asked on an application if you'd ever been convicted of a crime. You could put a note on the application that you were young, silly, and the misdemeanor wasn't even serious enough to require jail time, cross your fingers and hope for the best. A conviction of this type doesn't make you into a criminal, which is why there is no jail penalty. It wouldn't be an absolute bar to employment, but you can expect that it would likely present some kind of impediment to your candidacy.

Usually in matters of this sort, the middle scenario is what will come out of it. Whether you do better will depend on your lawyer.

Edited by FranL on 9/3/2010 at 1:43 AM EST
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 15952
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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