Alexandria, VA – Got a blemish on your record? Nobody’s perfect, but you could get one step closer to perfection. Bryan Porter, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria, has introduced a diversion program for folks with misdemeanor offenses for marijuana on their record. Effective Sept. 3, anyone who successfully participates in the diversion program will have their old charges dismissed.
“The Virginia Code contains a first-offender statute that allows people with no prior drug convictions a chance to avoid a criminal conviction,” Porter said in a statement.
Porter said that he wants his office to focus on more serious crimes, and said he was pleased that offenders who finish the program will consequently avoid issues regarding employment, education, and housing. Participants in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Marijuana Diversion Program must undergo a drug screening, agree to pretrial supervision, and complete community service.
“Our new program goes further than the state code in several important ways,” Porter said. “First, generally speaking, anyone charged with a small amount of marijuana for personal use is eligible to participate, even if they have a prior criminal record. Second, participants in our diversion program are not required to pay any court costs or fines. Third, because our program does not require the court to enter a finding of guilt, a person who successfully completes our program may petition to have the charge expunged from his record. My office will liberally agree to such requests if the legal requirements for expungement are satisfied.”