What you need to know about expungement in Virginia
When a judge signs a warrant for your arrest, that warrant will show up on your record during background checks. All arrests, warrants and charges are visible to the public eye even if you never get convicted of the crime.
That’s where expungement comes in. In Virginia, you can petition the courts to remove arrests and dismissed charges from your record. This does not mean that the records are destroyed, never to be seen again. What it does mean is that a judge would need to give permission for a law enforcement officer to access these records. And the records would not show during routine background checks for things like a new job.
What records are eligible for expungement in Virginia?
Expungement is not designed to help criminals hide in plain sight. Instead, it’s designed to allow those whose charges were dismissed to move on with their lives. Justice is served when individuals who are not guilty get their fair chance at a normal life.
Code of Virginia § 19.2-392.2 outlines the law for expungement in detail. Here’s a look at some eligible records that could be expunged with the help of a Virginia attorney.
- Juvenile convictions
- Dismissals with or without prejudice
- Dismissals by accord and satisfaction
- Cases where you are found not guilty
- Arrests that never led to a conviction
- Charges where you were pardoned
- Charges that were a case of mistaken identity or identity fraud
You cannot expunge a criminal conviction in Virginia. It does not matter how minor the conviction was or how long ago it took place, you cannot have it removed from your record. This includes convictions where you pled guilty or entered into a plea bargain.
The expungement process
The first step to expungement is to learn what is on your criminal record. To do this, you’ll need to do a criminal history record check. This takes an application with your local police department. This application is generally available online. Ask your attorney for more details.
Once you know what’s on your criminal record, you need to petition the courts to have the arrests or dropped charges removed. To do this, you’ll work with an attorney to file the petition in the Circuit Court of the jurisdiction where you have a criminal history.
The courts will have you fingerprinted and then there will be a waiting period. During this waiting period, you and your attorney will build your case for why you should have these records expunged.
Some reasons to expunge a criminal record might include:
- Gainful employment
- Repairing damage to your reputation
- The ability to return to school
- Ability to purchase a home or lease an apartment
As part of your case, your attorney will prove your innocence in the cases in question. This should be fairly easy since records eligible for expungement were cases where you were never convicted.
Proving your eligibility for expungement will be fairly simple if your criminal record is short. If you have multiple arrests related to felony charges, the judge will likely ask many more questions and need more proof than to remove charges for a misdemeanor.
Do the courts offer partial expungement?
Generally speaking, the more criminal activity there is on your record, the harder it is to seek an expungement. Discuss your specific situation with an attorney to learn for certain whether or not a partial expungement might be possible for you.
To be eligible even for a partial expungement, your records must still meet the above-listed requirements for expungement. You cannot be convicted of the crime in question.
Additionally, when you receive your criminal record history, you might find that there is information there that relates to someone else and should not be on your criminal history. If this is the case, you can challenge the record with your local law enforcement.
You’ll still need to be fingerprinted and present a valid photo ID to challenge records with errors on them.
Seeking employment after a criminal conviction
Individuals with previous convictions on their record might face challenges with getting a job. There is no law the prohibits employers from asking about a job candidate’s criminal history.
So if you’ve been convicted in the past, it’s best to be honest on job applications. Present letters of recommendation from previous employers and put your best effort in to still get the job.
Sadly, convictions are not eligible for expungement. Instead, you’ll need to work your way up in an organization and prove your worth despite your criminal history.
However, if you do have arrests or charges on your record where you were never convicted, contact Gore & Kuperman. We’ll work with you to ensure these eligible records get expunged so you can move forward with ease.