Updates to Virginia Law in 2020: People with Learning Disabilities

You may or may not be aware, but many changes to Virginia law are coming into effect starting on July 1, 2020. Keep reading to learn more about how people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism charged with a crime may be eligible for a deferred disposition.

Intellectual Disability and Crime

People that are born with autism or intellectual disabilities may have characteristics that make them both more – and less – likely to commit a crime. Some may have trouble controlling their aggression and understanding other people’s point of view. On the other hand, people with autism sometimes find rules very helpful and are more likely than “normal” people to adhere to society’s laws.

What is Changing in 2020 Regarding Criminal Law and Intellectual Disability?

Starting on July 1st, people with autism or an intellectual disability charged with a crime may be eligible for a deferred disposition. This is a way to avoid a criminal conviction and help people who legitimately have these conditions circumvent a charge that could unfairly affect them for life.

If the defending lawyers can show with clear and convincing evidence that the person’s autism or intellectual disability was a significant factor in the offense they are charged for, they may be eligible to continue the case out for a period of time. The defendant must then follow certain conditions and receive treatment. If after a period of time the judge is convinced that the disability was a significant factor in the offense, the case can then be dismissed. The legal standard of “clear and convincing evidence” means you need to demonstrate that there is a substantial probability that the diagnosis was a significant factor in the offense.

Need Advice Regarding Your Intellectual Disability and A Criminal Charge?

While this change to Virginia law may seem fairly straightforward, we would highly recommend seeking advice from a qualified lawyer if you believe you (or a loved one’s) intellectual disability may be a factor in your criminal charges. The Center for Criminal and Immigration Law specializes in providing trustworthy advice for Virginians with criminal charges. Contact us today for a free consultation!

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