Virginia Expungement Lawyer

John Doe was acquitted of a crime, but it’s still on his record. Now he can’t get a job and he can’t find an apartment. A potential employer asked about any criminal charges and so did a potential landlord. The result? John is turned away.

Is there any help for John Doe? Is there any way he can get back to a clean slate? Yes, there is. If the person is statutorily eligible, then it is possible for a person to have a Virginia criminal charge expunged. It is important to note that Virginia does not expunge criminal convictions, only criminal charges where the person was found not guilty, the case was dismissed nolle prosequi, or otherwise disposed in a manner permitted by Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.2.

Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.2 covers three situations: a judge or jury found the person not guilty of the original charge; the commonwealth attorney moved for a dismissal without prejudice, called nolle prosequi; or the charge was otherwise dismissed.

Expungement Process in Virginia

The first step for those seeking expungement in Virginia is to file a petition. It explains the relevant facts, states the person’s eligibility, and requests the relief sought. The petition states the arrest date as well as the arresting agency and is filed in the circuit court of the city or county where the case was heard. It also includes the exact charge to be expunged. A certified copy of the arrest warrant, obtained from the clerk of the General District Court or Circuit, is attached to the petition.

A copy of the petition is then served on the Commonwealth Attorney in the city or county of the original charge. The Commonwealth Attorney has twenty-one (21) days to file an objection to the petition or answer it. Next, a set of the convicted person’s fingerprints is sent to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) with a copy of the petition. The CCRE sends the fingerprints to the court with a copy of the person’s criminal history and a copy of the charge that is to be expunged.

With all that information, the court sets a date for hearing on the matter. If in the judgment of the Circuit Court the accused meets the statutory criteria, the copy of the decision is then forwarded to the Virginia State Police. The State Police will then follow the Order, removing the charge from their records as well as associated agencies. After a reasonable period, the State Police will notify the moving party, or their counsel, of the completion of the process.

In the twenty-first century with so much information available on the Internet, a growing number of people, including potential employers, have access to criminal records. Such information can deny employment and living arrangements to innocent people. If you have any charge on your record that you feel is unjustly causing you harm or discrimination in employment or housing, contact a Virginia attorney who is experienced in expungement proceedings. You will be able to start the proceedings that can wipe your slate clean in the Commonwealth of Virginia.