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How autism and similar conditions can help your defense

On Behalf of | Aug 26, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Life is never easy for those with disabling medical conditions. Those born autistic or with other intellectual disabilities may struggle to achieve the same milestones that their peers reach with minimal difficulty.

Making sense of social rules, having the ability to make good choices in a difficult scenario and complying with verbal instructions can all be difficult for those with some kind of intellectual or cognitive disability.

Virginia state law actually has special rules in place protecting those with a formal medical diagnosis of autism or similar intellectual disorders. Defendants arrested for drunk driving or similar allegations will be able to potentially leverage their condition as part of their defense strategy.

Deferred disposition is available for defendants with disabilities

Whether someone engaged in reckless driving or an impulsive act of shoplifting, police officers may arrest them if they get caught, and prosecutors will likely charge them with a crime. If that defendant pleads guilty in criminal court, they will face penalties ranging from fines and license suspension to jail time. A new law can help those trying to avoid a blemish on their criminal record or the criminal consequences a conviction will carry.

In a deferred disposition case, an individual presents the courts with evidence of a diagnosis of autism or a similar intellectual disability. They will also need compelling evidence to connect their condition with the criminal acts that led to their charges. If the judge presiding over their case agrees with their claims, they can sentence the defendant to probation instead of incarceration or standard criminal penalties.

How deferred disposition works

Typically, there will be numerous restrictions placed on the defendant’s activities. Provided that they comply with those restrictions and fulfill all court-imposed obligations, like showing up for randomized drug testing and meetings with the probation officer, they can avoid both criminal penalties and a criminal record that will limit their options for years to come.

The successful completion of a deferred disposition case related to intellectual disabilities and criminal charges will protect the defendant from a criminal record while also protecting society from the possibility of a repeat offense. Given that the law is new, there are defendants who may qualify but who have prior convictions on their records despite their intellectual disabilities. The state will not prevent those with prior offenses from making use of this new law.

Mounting an appropriate response to pending criminal charges can help you significantly reduce the long-term impact of those charges.


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