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Expungement of Police and Court Records in Virginia

What is an Criminal Record Expungement?

In Virginia, a conviction for any misdemeanor or felony criminal offense, such as assault, drug possession, DWI, grand larceny, reckless driving, etc., results in a record for life. However, under certain circumstances, these records can be sealed through a legal process called a criminal record expungement.

Pursuant to §19.2-392.2, a criminal record expungement is an action used to delete all police and court records, including electronic records, for a specific criminal case.  However, while an expungement removes these records from public access, they are not actually destroyed and can be accessed by court order.

Who Can Obtain a Criminal Record Expungement?

An expungement can only be obtained if you are acquitted, a nolle prosequi is taken, or the charge is “otherwise dismissed”, which would include dismissal by accord and satisfaction.  However, an expungement cannot be obtained if there is a finding of sufficient evidence of guilt, or a plea of guilty is entered under a first offenders statute.

Under What Conditions is a Criminal Record Expungement Granted or Denied?

As an expungement is not an automatic process, a request must be filed in Circuit Court.  Before a court will approve a request for an expungement, it is necessary to demonstrate that the record will cause economic harm.

For an expungement petition of a misdemeanor offence, where the petitioner has no prior record, the hearing for the petition is typically granted unless the Commonwealth shows good cause as to why it should be denied by the Court.  However, for an expungement petition of a felony offence, the hearing may be more rigorous and complicated, including demonstrating “the continued existence of information related to the arrest may constitute a manifest injustice to the petitioner”.

Why Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to File a Petition for Expungement in Virginia?

The expungement process is strictly regulated and requires numerous steps to be completed as part of the application.  For example, the petitioner is required to draft both the petition requesting the expungement and the order granting the expungement, in addition to serving the Commonwealth in the city or county in which the petition is filed.

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney will give you access to a wealth of legal knowledge and skills to increase the odds of a successful outcome.  For more information, check out our blogs on criminal record expungements.

If you are interested in obtaining an expungement, contact Susan F. Fremit, P.C. now, to see if you qualify for an expungement petition to be filed on your behalf.

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