Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

13-21 Board Proceedings Upon a First Offender Plea

  1. Action Upon Receipt of Notification. Whenever the Clerk receives written notification from any court of competent jurisdiction stating that an Attorney has entered a plea to a Crime under a first offender statute, and that the court has found facts that would justify a finding of guilt and ordered that the Attorney be put on probation, the Board shall forthwith enter an order requiring the Attorney to appear at a specified time and place for a hearing before the Board to determine whether the Attorney’s License should be revoked or suspended or, if not, whether the Attorney should be required to give notice, by certified mail, of the plea and probation ordered by the court, including the terms and duration of the probation, to all clients for whom the Attorney is currently handling matters, and to all opposing attorneys and the presiding judges in pending litigation.  A copy of the written notification from the court shall be served with the order fixing the time and place of the hearing.  The hearing shall be set not less than 14 or more than 30 days after the date of the Board’s order.
  2. Burden of Proof. At the hearing, the Attorney shall have the burden of proving why his or her License should not be suspended or revoked and why he or she should not be required to give notice of the plea and probation ordered by the court.
  3. Demand for Three Judge Court. If the Attorney elects to have further proceedings conducted pursuant to Va. Code § 54.1-3935, the Attorney shall file a demand with the Clerk of the Disciplinary System not later than ten days prior to the date set for the Board hearing, and simultaneously provide available dates for a hearing not less than 30 nor more than 120 days from the date of the demand. Upon such demand and provision of available dates as specified above, further proceedings before the Board shall be terminated and Bar Counsel shall file the complaint required by Va. Code § 54.1-3935. The hearing shall be scheduled as soon as practicable. However, the 30 to 120 day time frame shall not constitute a deadline for the hearing to be held. If the Respondent fails to file a demand, and provide available dates, as specified above, the Respondent shall be deemed to have consented to the jurisdiction of the Board.
  4. Attorney Compliance with Notice Requirements. If the Board or court suspends or revokes the Attorney’s License, the Attorney must comply with the notice requirements set out in subparagraph 13-29. If the Board or court orders the Attorney to give notice of the plea and court ordered probation, the Attorney shall give such notice within 14 days after the effective date of the Board’s order and furnish proof to the Bar within 60 days of the effective date of the order that such notices have been timely given. Issues concerning the adequacy of the notice shall be determined by the Board, which may suspend or revoke the Attorney’s License for failure to comply with the above notice requirements.


The amendments effective December 1, 2019, revised Paragraph 13-21 to clarify and simplify language.

Updated: November 25, 2019