Accord and Satisfaction, Misdemeanor, Criminal

Can I Settle a Misdemeanor Out of Court in Virginia?

If you’re facing misdemeanor criminal charges in Virginia, you may be eligible for a unique form of dismissal, called “accord and satisfaction.” Rather than face prosecution, the court closes your case because you made it right with the victim—either through financial compensation or some other form of consideration.

Many people are surprised to find out that this creative approach to criminal justice is available in Virginia. In this article, the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Fishwick & Associates explain the many benefits of accord and satisfaction—and why you may want to pursue it in your case.

What Is Criminal Accord and Satisfaction?

Under Virginia Code § 19.2-151, you can resolve certain criminal misdemeanor charges through a process called accord and satisfaction. Typically, accord and satisfaction occurs when the alleged victim agrees to accept money or other consideration to settle the matter. The “accord” is the agreement, and the “satisfaction” is its execution or performance. Virginia Carolina Elec. Works v. Cooper, 192 Va. 78, 63 S.E.2d 717 (1951).

For example, suppose you are having a disagreement with a neighbor. Tensions are running high, and you push them to the ground, injuring their shoulder. Someone calls the police, and you’re arrested for misdemeanor assault and battery charges. Afterward, you genuinely feel remorseful. Your criminal defense lawyer approaches your neighbor and explains that you want to apologize for your conduct and cover all of their medical bills. The neighbor happily accepts the offer.

Because you “did right” and took accountability for your actions, your criminal defense lawyer can request a dismissal under Virginia’s accord and satisfaction statute.

Can I Resolve Any Misdemeanor by Accord and Satisfaction?

Not all misdemeanors can be discharged by accord and satisfaction. The statute only allows this remedy for:

  • Assault and battery
  • Other misdemeanor charges that have a civil remedy, such as
    • Trespass
    • Obtaining money by false pretenses
    • Destruction of property

If you’re facing misdemeanor charges and are unsure whether accord and satisfaction is an option in your case, contact our office for a confidential consultation.

Exceptions to Virginia’s Accord and Satisfaction Law

The Virginia statute providing for the discharge charges does have some exceptions. Accord and satisfaction is unavailable if your misdemeanor charges involve:

  • A crime associated with a law enforcement officer
  • Domestic violence against a family or household member
  • Intent to commit a felony
  • Riotous conduct

If your criminal charges involve any of these factors, the judge will not accept accord and satisfaction. However, you may still have other defenses that lead to a dismissal or reduction in charges.

How Do I Resolve a Criminal Case by Accord and Satisfaction?

In misdemeanor criminal cases involving assault and battery or other charges for which there is a civil remedy, the trial judge has broad discretion over dismissals due to accord and satisfaction. Although it may be helpful to get the agreement of the Commonwealth’s attorney in such a case, it is not required.

RELATED: What Does It Mean to Plead No Contest?

Accord and Satisfaction and Expungement

Under Virginia law, you can request expungement of charges that are dismissed by accord and satisfaction. Expungement is a legal process that erases a criminal charge from your record. Once expunged, arrest records and other information are taken off your record for most purposes.

This is one of the most significant advantages to accord and satisfaction; in addition to the dismissal of your misdemeanor charges, you can even remove them from your criminal record.

However, expungement after accord and satisfaction is not automatic – you must request it. To request an expungement, you or your criminal defense lawyer must file a series of documents with the court, outlining the relevant facts of your case and other information.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Criminal Accord and Satisfaction?

We strongly discourage anyone from trying to resolve a misdemeanor by accord and satisfaction on their own. Without help from an experienced lawyer, you may make incriminating statements that damage your case or defenses.

Fishwick & Associates: Fighting for Individuals Facing of Criminal Misdemeanor Charges

If you have charged with criminal misdemeanor offenses, Fishwick & Associates can help determine whether you may be eligible for an accord and satisfaction, or if there are other defenses to the charges you are facing. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, complete our online contact form or call us at 540.345.5890.

References

Virginia Code §§ 19.2-151; 19.2-392.2

Virginia Carolina Elec. Works v. Cooper, 192 Va. 78, 63 S.E.2d 717 (1951).

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.