Having a criminal record can have a huge impact on your life. From finding work to obtaining a home, having a criminal record can be detrimental to your life and present limitations to how you live. You can file a petition to expunge (another way of saying remove) your record in Virginia, but the state has very strict requirements for when and how this can happen.
Keep reading if you are interested in learning under which circumstances it is possible to get your criminal record expunged in the state of Virginia.
In Virginia, the law allows criminal records to be expunged after a person is found “not guilty” of a charge, or if a charge is dismissed (including a dismissal by the prosecutor, a.k.a “nolle prosequi”). Generally, if you are convicted of a crime in Virginia you cannot have your criminal record removed.
Also, unlike other states, Virginia does not automatically expunge a person’s record if they are a first-time offender. A person must petition the court and obtain a court order expunging the records before their record is clean again.
Virginia courts also have the right to challenge petitions for appeals, even if the defendant was found not guilty. Defendants with no prior charges are eligible for expungement unless prosecutors can show the court a good reason to deny the request.
When you petition the court to expunge your criminal record, the court will determine whether the “continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the arrest of the petitioner causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner”.
Essentially, the court will decide whether having a criminal record would cause undue injustice to your daily life. The commonwealth (or prosecutor) has a choice to either agree to the petition for expungement, or object to the expungement. Depending on the circumstances, the court may then hold a hearing to determine if expungement is appropriate. A lawyer can prepare the expungement petition for you and advocate for an expungement even if the prosecutor objects to it on your behalf.
The Center for Criminal and Immigration Law is a boutique law firm that specializes in criminal and immigration law. Contact them today if you think you may qualify for a criminal record expungement and want legal advice you can depend on.