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Nolle Prosequi vs Not Guilty?

Fredericksburg, VA |

I was charged with marijuana possession and I got Nolle prosequi. What does it mean? dismissed? or not guilty? Do I need to expunge it? I am 22 and planning joining the army soon, does Nolle Prosequi will create any obstacles?

Appreciate all your answers

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Attorney answers 6


Nolle Prosequi means the prosecutor has decided not to prosecute you on the charge. This sometimes happens when the prosecution feels that their case is weak (there are other reasons as well). It's similar to a dismissal, but the prosecution can still bring the charge again within the statute of limitations (often 1 year in Virginia). That may happen if they get more evidence to support the charge.

An attorney can advise you on the specifics of your case, and whether or not it is likely for the charges to be brought in the future.

This may not hinder your ability to join the military but may cause issues if you go for certain clearance levels in the future. This is something you can get expunged, to get the charge removed from your record. Talk to an attorney about your case and possible expungement.



So basically after one year charges dismissed completely??? Forever?

David Vyborny

David Vyborny


The charge is dismissed as of the day the judge granted the prosecutor's motion to nolle prosequi. After 1 year the prosecution can no longer re-file the charges. As long as your case qualifies, you could petition the court to expunge the charge tomorrow of you want. it sounds like your case qualifies, but just in case there are some facts missing here you should have an attorney review your specific case to advise you accurately on the possibility of expungement.



ok thanks a lot :))) working on expungement now!


While not licensed in VA, the answer you just got from Attorney Vyborny is entirely consistent with what would obtain under these circumstances in my Commonwealth. I would highly recommend that you reach out to the highly qualified VA attorneys who participate here to talk with them privately. Many of us offer free, if limited, consultations. Ought to take advantage of the opportunity to educate yourself and locate an experienced attorney if it turns out you need one. Good luck and be safe.


It means that prosecution was declined, usually before any formal charges have been made. The charge has been dismissed. You do want to have this expunged and the fingerprint record removed from the database if possible. Otherwise it will be showing up as an arrest in background checks.

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Va code allows expungement of this arrest. I'm a local Fredericksburg attorney and would be happy to talk to you in more detail about the expungement process. I can be reached on my cell at (540)840-8470. I will be out of town until January 28th but can be reached by email until I return.

Darren Meyer


I concur with the other attorney's responses here. You should get this charge expunged from your record.
While you techinally don't need an attorney for an expungement, I've found it's often very helpful to have one, especially a local attorney that knows the process. Each courthouse is different, and a knowledgeable and skilled attorney is well worth the price for the expungement.


Nolle prosequi simply means that the case was not prosecuted. In theory, the Commonwealth's Attorney can bring back the misdemeanor case any time within the next year. In practice, that almost never happens. This is a form of having your case dismissed.

You may truthfully say that you were never convicted of the crime, but yes, you definitely want to have this case expunged if you are seeking to join the Army. It may not prevent you from enlisting, but could create obstacles to joining certain specialties or holding certain clearances.

It is harder to qualify for an expungement in Virginia than in many states. If you do not have any prior criminal charges, you will be automatically entitled to an expungement of this possession charge if a year goes by from the date of the nolle prosequi. If you do have a prior record, you will be required after the year wait to demonstrate that -not- giving you an expungement creates a hardship for you. That is, if your record isn't completely clean, it is up to the judge whether to grant you the expungement.

Talk to a Virginia attorney about expungement for more details, and good luck!

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