A criminal record can have long-term consequences on your life, including your ability to obtain a professional license, employment, and housing. Accordingly, it makes sense that you would want your criminal record expunged as soon as possible. However, expungement is not a right, and you can only obtain an expungement in very limited circumstances in Virginia.
What Is an Expungement in Virginia?
Expungement is the legal process of removing all records of your arrest and criminal charge from public access. When an expungement is granted, information relating the the offense that is on your criminal record with the NCIC is removed or sealed. Additionally, all court records are destroyed and sealed, and any records of the police department and the prosecutors office are destroyed.
An expungement may also give you the right to treat the offense as if it didn't occur in answering questions on applications. However, the federal government (including immigration authorities) always have the right to ask about expunged offenses because federal law is supreme over state law.
When Can You Expunge a Criminal Offense in Virginia?
Adult criminal records expungement is extremely limited in Virginia. Convictions can never be expunged under current law. However, if you were not convicted, you may be eligible for expungement in these situations:
- You pled not guilty and were acquitted (found "not guilty") of the charges by a judge or jury.
- You were charged with contempt of court in a civil case but were acquitted.
- You are the defendant in a criminal case where the prosecutor decides not to prosecute and abandons all charges—usually through a motion for nolle prosequi (nolle pros)
- Your name or identity was stolen and used in another crime.
- You were convicted of a crime but received an absolute pardon.
- You charge was dismiss as part of n accord and satisfaction.
- You were charged with a crime, but the offense was amended to a different charge and the new charge is different in nature than the original charge.
If you entered a court program (such as the 251 program for drug possession or the OAR program for petit larceny) where you did community service and had to meet other requirements to get your case dismissed, then the case is only expungeable if you did not "stipulate" that the facts were sufficient for conviction when you entered the deal. The only way to know this is to examine the court order.
Given that Virginia doesn't allow the expungement of any convictions for any reason at any time, the time to challenge the charge is now. While it may not be possible for everyone to get their charges dismissed, the only opportunity you have is to fight the charge or have it reduced is now.
Fairfax Virginia Expungement Lawyer
If you need to seek an expungement or have been charged with a crime, call our office today at 703-556-0004 or use the Contact Us box to schedule a free consultation with a Fairfax Virginia Expungement and Criminal Defense Lawyer. Learn how our experienced criminal defense team can help you build your defense.