Expungement Attorneys in Virginia
Expungement in Virginia
Virginia, like most other states, has blurred the line between expungement and record sealing, meaning that in Virginia your criminal record is not destroyed, but rather blocked from public access. In either case, being granted an expungement in Virginia can have enormous benefits for you. It not only blocks your criminal record from appearing in routine background checks, but allows you to legally deny your arrest and conviction history. As such Virginia does have requirements for eligibility when it comes to expungement or sealing your records.
In Virginia, the final disposition of your charges determines your eligibility for expungement of those records. If the final disposition of your charges resulted in acquittal, nolle prossequi, accord & satisfaction, “otherwise dismissed”, or where you were actual innocence (i.e. mistaken identity, victim of identity theft, absolute pardon). In some cases, a deferred disposition that resulted in dismissal may also qualify, but only if there was not a finding of “facts sufficient” for guilt (i.e. a first offender sentence). When determining whether to grant your petition for expungement, the court will consider your criminal history.
For eligible misdemeanors, if you have no other criminal record, you are entitled to expungement in Virginia unless the State can show otherwise. In other cases, the Court will make a determination of whether allowing your criminal record to continue causes you a “manifest injustice.”
In most cases convictions are not eligible for expungement in Virginia. However, if your conviction is later overturned you may be eligible.
For juveniles, the state will automatically expunge (except in the case of motor vehicle violations or felony convictions) your records annually. Your records become eligible at the next scheduled date after your 19th birthday, as long as five (5) years have elapsed since your last hearing. For motor vehicle violations, they will be expunged after your turn twenty-nine (29).
Virginia also allows you to apply for a pardon, however, like expungements it is not easy to get. If you were wrongly convicted or can prove you have been a good citizen since your conviction, you may be eligible for a pardon. Virginia has several types of pardons:
- A simple pardon officially forgives your crime and can make qualifying for a job easier, among other things.
- An absolute pardon is an official recognition of your innocence.
- A conditional pardon can be granted to individuals still incarcerated and can allow for early release.
If you receive an absolute pardon you are then eligible to petition for expungement.