You will have a permanent criminal record if you are charged with or convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense in Virginia. This can result in long-term consequences, such as difficulties obtaining employment, education, and security clearance—long after you fulfill the terms of your sentence. Unfortunately, your right to an expungement to clear your criminal record is limited in our state.
Understanding What an Expungement Is
Many people incorrectly believe that an expungement results in the destruction of the criminal record being expunged. This is not true. An expungement is the sealing of criminal records from the view of the public, such as educational institutions and employers. However, the criminal record can be reviewed by law enforcement officials and others if they first obtain court permission.
When You Can Obtain an Expungement in Virginia
In Virginia, you only have a right to an expungement if the charges against you were dismissed or you were found not guilty at a trial. Even if you meet these requirements, you do not have an automatic right to an expungement. You would need to petition the court and request that the criminal charges be expunged. Here is when you may be able to expunge criminal charges:
- You pled not guilty and were acquitted in a trial by a judge or jury.
- You were charged with contempt of court in a civil case and were found not guilty.
- The prosecutor decided not to prosecute you for any charges. The legal term for this is nolle prosequi.
- You were charged with assault and battery or another misdemeanor offense where you also could be sued in a civil lawsuit, and the victim signs a statement that you fully compensated them and the case was dismissed.
- Your name and identity were used without your consent and knowledge to commit a crime, and you are the victim of identity theft.
- You were convicted of a crime but received an absolute pardon.
Do you qualify to have a criminal charge expunged from your criminal record? Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers in Norfolk can help you file your petition and take other necessary steps so that your petition is granted. To learn more, call our office to schedule your free consultation today.