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Can a settle before going to trail for a petty larceny charge in Virginia?

Arlington, VA |

I have no priors and currently seeking employment so I would like to avoid anything that might show up on a background check. I was not fingerprinted or arrested but was given a summons. I am full time student and active in my community

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Attorney answers 4


You will almost certainly have the option of settling your case prior to trial. This is a called a "plea bargain." Depending on the facts of your case though, going to trial may be your best option. However, if winning seems unlikely, many first offense Petit Larceny cases can be resolved, pretrial, without one getting a criminal conviction.


You can settle your case on the day of trial, but usually not before then. A plea bargain avoids a trial, but those are usually agreed to on the day of trial between the prosecutor and your attorney. In some courts your attorney can phone the assigned prosecutor ahead of time and work out a proposed plea, but you still will be required to attend the trial date.


If you are intent on maintaining a clean record, beware entering into any first offender program. You cannot get an expungement under Virginia law (1) if you plead guilty or make any admission concerning the facts of your case or (2) if the court orders you to complete certain steps as a condition of getting a dismissal. Many first-offender dispositions or programs require one or both of those things to get a dismissal, rendering it impossible to get an expungement. You absolutely need to have a lawyer with you if you want to keep your record clean and get an expungement down the road.

Good luck.

The information provided in these responses is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.


You can only settle (if I understand you correctly) by having an attorney negotiate a different offense that would not be as bad for your record. If you plead guilty to this offense, it will be on your record forever. On the other hand, if you have a defense (and there are probably many possible defenses that you are not even aware of), you could fight the charge and then expunge the record if you are found not guilty. Hire an attorney though, larceny is a nasty charge to have on one's record forever.

This is not legal advice: it is intended to be used for general informational or educational purposes only. For a free case evaluation, visit