Expungement is the legal process by which an individual’s police and court records are permanently removed from the public eye and sealed. This process varies by state, and in Virginia, the final disposition of a criminal charge may determine whether the charge qualifies for an expungement. If your charge is successfully expunged, this means your charge is no longer visible to the public (including potential employers). At Robinson Law, our dedicated Fairfax expungement lawyers have extensive experience successfully expunging our clients’ past arrests and convictions.Who Is Eligible for an Expungement in Virginia?
The state of Virginia permits two types of expungements. First, you can expunge an arrest that did not result in a conviction. Second, you can expunge certain convictions for misdemeanors and lower-level felony offenses. However, in either situation, you’ll need to make sure you qualify for an expungement and that you follow the strict procedural guidelines for obtaining an expungement.If You Were Not Convicted of a Crime
Your criminal charge, such as a DUI or DWI, may be expunged in Virginia if the final disposition of the criminal charge resulted in one of the following:
- You were charged with a crime but found not guilty, or you were acquitted;
- You were charged with a crime, but the charge was dismissed or withdrawn;
- You were charged with a crime, but the charge was “otherwise dismissed” by accord & satisfaction; or
- You were charged with a crime, but you are innocent of the crime (i.e., you were the victim of identity theft, and someone committed a crime using your name).
Note there is no statute of limitations for having a charge expunged, so you may file a petition for expungement years after the case is over or immediately after you were acquitted.If You Were Convicted of a Crime
Under recent developments to Virginia expungement law, you can now get misdemeanors and Class 5/6 felonies expunged from your record. However, to do so, you must meet certain criteria. For example, you cannot have ever been convicted of a Class 1 or 2 felony, you must not have a Class 3 or 4 felony conviction for the past 20 years, and you must not have a Class 5 or 6 felony conviction within the past ten years.
The process of filing a petition for expungement varies depending on the jurisdiction in Virginia. The paperwork and filing fees must be submitted to the Circuit Court Civil Division Clerk in the jurisdiction in which you were charged. Most petitioners choose to hire a Fairfax defense attorney to handle this process, but the court does permit individuals to represent themselves. Once you’ve determined that you are eligible for an expungement, you will need to do the following:
- Complete the cover sheet;
- Pay all filing Fees;
- Pay all service fees;
- Draft an original Petition for Expungement of Record for each charge;
- Provide a certified copy of the warrant or summons with the disposition for each charge you want to be expunged;
- File an Order of Expungement (CC-1474) form for each charge
- File either a petition for Expungement Acquittal/Dismissal form or a Petition for Expungement Absolute Pardon form for each charge.
Once you’ve submitted the above documents to the Circuit Court Clerk, you will need to go to the appropriate police department to obtain a new set of fingerprints. The police department will require a copy of filed documents. From there, you must attend the expungement hearing.
The Expungement Hearing
Once the court has received and processed the necessary documents and fees, a hearing for your petition will be scheduled. You and the Commonwealth’s Attorney will be allowed to present witnesses and evidence. If the judge believes "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," the judge will enter an order of expungement of records. Moreover, if you have a clean criminal record and the charge in question is a misdemeanor offense, the expungement will be granted.Why Should I Consider Having My Record Expunged?
There are numerous reasons why expunging your record benefits you in the long run. The primary reasons people petition to have their criminal records expunged are:
- Employer Background Check
- College or University Background Checks
- Approval for Volunteer Work
- Getting Legal Help
The expungement process in Virginia is detailed, time-consuming and often stressful. At Robinson Law, PLLC, we efficiently handle the process for you. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call (703) 844-3746. You can also connect with us through our online form.