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Understanding Virginia Expungement Laws

Posted by John A. Kassabian | May 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

Having a criminal record in Virginia can make life far more difficult than anyone would like, and unfortunately, getting a crime expunged (removed) from your record in Virginia is especially challenging. Without an expungement, your conviction and charge will remain on your record for life, making it difficult to find a good job or a place to live; it may even keep you from exercising your right to own a gun.

Current strict Virginia expungement laws mean that expungement is sometimes possible, but working with an experienced Loudoun County expungement attorney is a must. A good place to start learning about getting your record expunged is understanding Virginia law. If you believe you qualify for an expungement after reading this blog, contact Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. John Kassabian has over 25 years of experience with successful expungements and can tell you more about your rights during a free consultation.

Are Expungements Common in Virginia?

The vast majority of criminal convictions in Virginia cannot be expunged: they will remain on your record for life. However, if you were arrested and charged, but were ultimately found not guilty of the crime you were accused of, expungement is possible. If a crime is expunged from your record, your record will essentially be “sealed” and removed from public access. In other words, once a record is expunged, it can only be accessed by strict approval through the court, by Court Order.   

It is important to keep in mind that even if you are found not guilty of a crime, you shouldn't assume that your record will automatically be cleared. The reality is that you have to petition the court for the expungement, and undergo a legal process during which a prosecutor could decide to fight your expungement, depending on the circumstances of your case. This is why it is essential to work with an expungement lawyer serving Loudoun County if you find yourself in this position.

Who Can Get a Record Expunged in Virginia?

While expungements in Virginia are limited, in certain cases, Virginia law allows them. Here are a few scenarios where your record can be expunged:

  • The prosecutor decides not to prosecute your case and your charges are dismissed or a nolle prosequi is entered
  • The case is dismissed by an accord and satisfaction
  • You are acquitted after being charged with a crime
  • Someone steals your identity, commits a crime, and is charged under your name. It should be noted that you will not even have to pay the otherwise required filing fees for a petition for expungement under this particular circumstance  
  • You received an absolute pardon after a conviction (note that this is rare)
  • Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 16.1-306, if you are a juvenile when you were convicted of a delinquent act, the clerk of the juvenile and domestic relations district court is required by operation of law on January 2 of each year or on a date designated by the court, to destroy its files, papers and records, including electronic records when the juvenile has attained the age of 19 years and 5 years have elapsed since the date of the last hearing. If a juvenile wishes to have a delinquent act expunged prior to the above age and time requirement, the juvenile will need to petition the juvenile and domestic relations district court for expungement of the juvenile court records. It should be recognized that any finding of guilt of any delinquency act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, is not eligible for expungement and will be retained.

If you have a clean criminal record and were charged with a misdemeanor and the case was otherwise dismissed, including a deferred finding and dismissal pursuant to Virginia Code Section 19.2-298.02, an order was nolle prosequi or an accord and satisfaction was entered, or you were acquitted of the charge after a trial on the merits was had; the court  may be willing to expunge the court and police record unless the Commonwealth shows good cause not have the expungement take place. If, on the other hand, you were charged with a felony or your criminal record has grown since you were charged, the charge may be expunged in cases where the continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the  charges you are seeking expungement causes or may cause circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice. The possibility of expungement depends largely on the specifics of your case, and each case is different. Consulting with an attorney is the best way to know whether or not you are eligible.

When a Loudoun County Expungement Lawyer Can Help

If you believe you may be eligible for expungement of your criminal record and police records in Virginia, there is a significant amount of legal paperwork involved when opening and expungement in Loudoun County, from filing a petition in Circuit Court, including certified copies of the charge(s) setting-forth the disposition of the charge(s) to be expunged, a correct Expungement Order and  cover sheet for filing civil actions.  Additionally, you will need to include 2 copies of the Petition for Expungement along with 2 copies of the charge(s) showing the disposition of the charge(s) that you are asking to be expunged. A Supplemental Information for Expungement Refund Form will also need to be completed and filed. A required filing fee and service of process fee (fees totally $98.00) on the Commonwealth Attorney will also need to provided at the time of filing. The paperwork alone is essential to get right, and a lawyer can help ensure that you have properly filed the required information. In addition, the prosecutor can always object to your expungement, so you will want to have a good lawyer on hand to present you case. 

Filing the expungement is just the beginning. You will then have to obtain from a law enforcement agency a complete set of your fingerprints and you will need to provide the law enforcement agency with a copy of the petition for expungement with the appropriate attachments. The law enforcement officer agency will submit a set of your fingerprints to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) with one copy of the petition for expungement. The CCRE will then forward under seal to the Circuit Court Clerk's Office a copy of your criminal history, the source documents and your set of fingerprint cards.  After the criminal history check and fingerprint cards have been filed with the clerk's office, a hearing on the Petition for Expungement with the court may be scheduled. Hearing dates for the expungement are set on the Circuit Court Civil Motions docket.  There are certain requirements as to when the hearing may occur to include filing of a Praecipe and making sure the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney is properly notified of the hearing date and time.

Please note there will be significant legislative changes in the up-coming years implemented on a staggered basis in Virginia regarding expungements and the sealing of police and court records regarding criminal charges in Virginia. Please stay tuned for information in this!         

To find out more about whether you currently qualify for expungement of police and court records regarding your criminal case, get in touch with Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. John Kassabian has successfully expunged criminal records and may be able to help you as well.

Contact John at 703-750-3622 for a free consultation.

About the Author

John A. Kassabian

John A. Kassabian joined the family firm in 2002 after having served as a Prosecutor in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Specializing in criminal defense, traffic defense and civil related matters, John has an extensive criminal law background and has handled a wide variety of cases for ...

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