Virginia Expungement – How do I expunge my Criminal Conviction?
Expungement is the name for the legal procedure of sealing court and police records relating to a criminal charge the person has committed. If you have been accused with a crime but were not convicted you may want to think about expungement. An experienced Virginia expungement advocate can evaluate your case and tell you if you are likely to prosper in your motion to expunge a criminal charge from your criminal record. Unlike other states, Virginia has a relatively harsh statutory scheme for when the criminal record of a charge can be expunged.
Benefit of Expungement?
There are many people who are worried about applying for employment with a criminal charge on their criminal record. If the case ended in an acquittal, a “nolle prosequi”, or another kind of dismissal you may be able to have the criminal charge removed from your criminal record so that future employers will not be able to see it. This process can be incredibly vital when a defendant is applying for a job or going through a serious security clearance investigation process. However, if you got convicted, the passage of time will not allow you to get the charge expunged even if it is a misdemeanor. Some other states allow for an expungement based simply on the passage of a number of years, whereas in Virginia this is not the case.
What is the Expungement Process in Virginia?
Expungements in Virginia are governed by Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.2. The process for expungement requires several steps including fingerprinting by the state police and a hearing in the Circuit Court. An experienced criminal law attorney can walk you through the process.
- Expungement of Misdemeanors
The Virginia Code provides that some applicants are entitled to expungement. If you have no prior criminal record and are seeking to expunge a misdemeanor, you are entitled to have the charge removed from your record. The Commonwealth can still present evidence to the court of good cause why the expungement should not be granted, however.
- Expungement of Felonies
Felony charges can also be expunged in Virginia. To have a felony charge expunged the applicant must show that the information about the arrest and charge causes or may cause manifest injustice. It is important to discuss felony expungement in Virginia with an experienced criminal attorney. Your attorney will put together evidence to present to the court to help satisfy the requirements of the law.
- Expungement of Original Charges After a Plea Agreement
Often people who are charged with an offense such as DUI reach a plea agreement to a reduced charge such as reckless driving. If you are wondering if you can have your DUI expunged after pleading guilty to reckless driving you should contact an attorney to discuss this possibility. The Virginia Supreme Court decided a similar issue in Dressner v. Commonwealth. An experienced expungement attorney can discuss how this case may apply to your specific facts and help you present an argument to the Circuit Court for your expungement.