What is the Process for an Expungement in Virginia?

Having a criminal record can make it tough to do stuff most people take for granted, from applying for employment or renting an apartment or a house to getting a professional license. In a few cases, you may be able to have your criminal record expunged or get it sealed so that the general public may no longer see it. Laws of the Virginia state, on this procedure are very restricting, but your criminal record may qualify under the conditions described below.

Getting your criminal record expunged means that the information is treated as private, although your criminal records are not physically destroyed and will remain in custody of the law enforcement agencies and the Court. Expunged records are not visible to landowners and most co-workers. After your criminal record is expunged, you are officially allowed to the state government that the offense never happened and that the record doesn’t even exist.

What Criminal Records can be expunged?

According to the Code of Virginia, you may have to petition to have your criminal records expunged in some cases, including if:

  • the charges were dismissed, or
  • Someone else committed the crime using your name or identity or any card having your initials
  • you were innocent of the crime at trial

(Virginia Statutes § 19.2-392.2 (2018).)

In most of the cases, you cannot get a record expunged. If you were sentenced of a crime you did not commit, however, you can file a petition for expungement if you first receive absolute forgiveness. (Virginia Statutes § 19.2-392.2 (2018).)

Hearing and the Court Process

To request an expungement of eligible criminal records, you must file an appeal with the court in the county or city wherever your case was handled. You must also submit copies of the petition or appeal to the Commonwealth lawyer of the same county or city and your local police station. Moreover, you will need to get fingerprinted and request a copy of your criminal record at the police station.

Once the court gets all the information it needs, it will schedule a hearing to see if your record should be expunged or not.

Pardons in Virginia

It isn’t easy to get a pardon in Virginia. However, if you believe you’ve been wrongly accused or convicted, or you can show that you’ve been a good citizen since your last conviction, you may be capable to get one of the state’s three types of pardons:

  • Simple pardon; it officially forgives your crime and can make it easier for you to qualify for a job, among other things.
  • An absolute pardon, which is official recognition of your innocence and declares you innocent.
  • A conditional pardon, which is granted to people who are still in jail and can get an early release.

Out of all these, only the absolute pardon allows you to petition for expungement. However, even if you can’t qualify for an absolute pardon, a simple pardon can still be worth pursuing to help you get on with your life.