Virginia upholds a criminal code that can come with severe repercussions, including hefty fines and jail time, depending upon the law that was broken. Having a criminal record can negatively impact a person’s future, from job opportunities to housing options. While an individual can’t ask the court to remove all mention of a criminal conviction, they can ask them to wipe the record clean if they have been acquitted or the charges have been dismissed. This is known as an expungement.
What Is an Expungement?
In the simplest of terms, an expungement makes your arrest records inaccessible to the public. While the justice system will still have access to the information, it will not be visible to most others. Expunged records do not appear on background checks, potential employers and leasing agents won’t see them, and you are not obligated by law to disclose it on employment forms or any other official application type.
Am I Eligible for an Expungement?
According to Virginia’s legal code, you are eligible for an expungement if you have had charges against you, and one of the following statements is true:
- You were acquitted of the crime.
- The Commonwealth’s attorney ceased to prosecute.
- The charges were otherwise dismissed—for example, due to insufficient evidence.
- The crime was committed by someone else using your identity.
An expungement may not be available if:
- You pleaded guilty or no contest.
- Your charge was dismissed through a first-offender program for drugs or domestic assault.
How Do I Get an Expungement?
If you wish to get an expungement, you must file a petition and secure a certified copy of your arrest warrant or indictment. Both of these documents should be filed with the court where the charges were resolved. After this, a few more things will happen:
- The petition will be served on the Commonwealth’s attorney. The Commonwealth of Virginia has 21 days to respond.
- You will be fingerprinted by a law enforcement agency. You will need to provide a copy of your petition.
- The law enforcement agency then submits the fingerprints to the Central Criminal Records Exchange along with a copy of your petition.
- Central Criminal Records Exchange sends a copy of your criminal history, the documents you want to be expunged, and your fingerprints to the court.
- The court will then rule either way on your expungement, and the process will be completed.
When all of the steps are complete, you will receive a letter from the Virginia State Police confirming so.
How a Lawyer Can Help
As you can see from above, obtaining a successful expungement is a lengthy and complicated process. Getting a positive outcome is essential, as it truly changes the game for you when it comes to employment, housing, government services, and other life necessities.
Do You Find Yourself in Need of a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you've recently found yourself in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Virginia you should speak with us as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia law office at 703.277.2811 to schedule your free consultation. We help clients throughout Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia and look forward to helping you.