Can I expunge my criminal record in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Aug 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you will wonder if you can clear your criminal record and move on with your life. Having a criminal record can affect your employment, education, housing and credit opportunities. Fortunately, Virginia law allows some people to expunge their criminal records under certain circumstances. Expungement means that your police and court records are hidden from public view, but not destroyed.

Who qualifies?

According to the Code of Virginia Chapter 23.1, you can petition for expungement of your criminal record if you are acquitted of the charge. You may also qualify if the charge is dismissed by the court or the prosecutor, or the charge is dismissed by accord and satisfaction (a civil settlement between you and the victim)

Other crimes can be expunged if your name or identity was used without your consent by someone who was arrested or charged. And, you may qualify if you received an absolute pardon for a crime that you were unjustly convicted.

Who does not qualify?

You cannot petition for expungement if you were convicted of the charge, or if you pleaded guilty or no contest to the charge. You also would not qualify if you received a deferred disposition (a conditional dismissal) for the charge, or the charge is still pending or under appeal.

How to apply

If you qualify for expungement, you need to file a petition with the circuit court of the county or city where your case was disposed. You also need to include a copy of the warrant, summons or indictment, if available, and one set of your fingerprints obtained from a law enforcement agency. You may have to pay a filing fee unless you are indigent, or your petition is based on identity theft.

The court will review your petition and decide whether to grant or deny it. The court may hold a hearing where you and the prosecutor can present evidence and arguments. The court will consider several factors, such as the nature of the charge, your criminal history, your reputation and the public interest.

If the court grants your petition, it will order the police and court records relating to the charge to be sealed from public view. However, the records are not destroyed and can still be accessed by law enforcement agencies or by court order. You can also legally deny having been arrested or charged with the expunged offense.