If you have been charged with a crime in Virginia but were not convicted, you are likely all too aware that even if not proven guilty, you may still not be considered innocent. Although not found or proven to have committed an offense, a criminal charge on your record may affect all aspects of your life, from obtaining a recreational permit or license to getting hired for a job. Through an expungement, however, you may conceal such records from public view and regain your good name.
An expungement is a court action that seals all the records relating to a criminal case, eliminating them from public access. It is important to keep in mind that this data, which includes police and court records, may still be disclosed under certain circumstances. For example, they may be opened for the purpose of a background check relating to an employment application for a law enforcement-related position.
If granted an expungement, the involved criminal records cannot be used as cause for denying you any employment, licensing or permits. Further, you are no longer legally obligated to disclose or claim the record.
According to Virginia state law, you may be entitled to obtain an expungement if you meet one of the following circumstances:
- Identity theft resulted in your name or identification being used in a criminal case without your consent
- The state’s attorney’s office decided not to prosecute the charges against you
- The injured person in an assault or battery case states he or she has been satisfactorily compensated for the injury
- You were charged, but found not guilty, of contempt of court in a civil action
- You pleaded not guilty and were acquitted by a jury or judge of a criminal offense
While expungement is not generally an option if you were convicted, you may petition the court to have your record sealed if you received an absolute pardon.
This information is not meant as legal advice and should only be considered for general purposes.