A criminal record can haunt you. Having even a misdemeanor case reported on your record might jeopardize future educational, housing and career opportunities. Making a single youthful mistake or bad decision doesn't necessarily mean that your future plans are at risk, though. Virginia's laws provide a way to clear certain cases and arrests from your record through the process of expungement.
What is expungement?
Expungement is a method by which arrests and misdemeanor criminal records of arrest are removed from a person's criminal record. Not all criminal charges are eligible for expungement, but the process can still be helpful, because having fewer records of arrest convictions can make a big difference.
Once a conviction has been expunged, it will be more unlikely to be discoverable by civilian internet searches, and is not required to be disclosed to future potential employers, lenders, educational institutions or housing providers in Virginia. For most intents and purposes, expungement wipes the criminal slate clean, making it appear like the criminal case never happened.
Anyone seeking to expunge a criminal record in Virginia needs to complete a detailed Petition, submit to being fingerprinted, undergo an additional criminal history check performed by the state police, pay a fee (dependent upon the jurisdiction wherein the application is filed) and notify police authorities. There are variations in the types of petitions for expungement based on whether the underlying offense was dismissed, you were acquitted or you were the victim of identity theft.
To some, this may seem straightforward, but it is an exacting process; someone not familiar with the minutiae can easily make crucial mistakes.
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney well-versed in navigation of the legal system can make the entire expungement process much less stressful and can increase your chances of having your application granted the first time around, with no need to resubmit it once you have made technical revisions. Since there are limitations on the types of offenses that can be expunged under Virginia law, one is well advised to be led through the process by someone skilled.
Do you or someone you love need help seeking an expungement of your Virginia criminal record? Do you need more information about the process, or the types of convictions that can be expunged? If so, seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.