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Can criminal cases be expunged in Virginia?

For a person who is charged but not convicted of a crime, the history of the arrest and accusation can have a huge impact on his or her life. This is because the charges might show up if a potential employer or anyone else does a criminal background check. For this reason, an expungement might be a good option for some people. Our Virginia residents might like to know a little more about expungements so they can decide if they qualify for one.

Can any criminal record be expunged?

No, cases that qualify for expungement must meet specific requirements. In order to qualify, the case must have ended in an acquittal, a dismissal, a nolle prosequi or an absolute pardon. An expungement can also be granted if a person's name was used in error on a criminal case. There are some instances in which a person might not have been convicted of a crime but might not qualify for an expungement. Seeking assistance from someone familiar with expungements is vital to fully understand if your case qualifies for an expungement.

Are criminal records covered in an expungement destroyed?

No, the criminal records are sealed, but they aren't destroyed. Generally, it can take three to six months for all agencies to expunge a record. The information can't be removed until after the Virginia State Police approves the Court's Order of Expungement. This approval must be in writing.

There are a variety of charges that someone might want to get expunged from his or her record. Theft charges, drug charges and other similar charges that might preclude you from employment or housing are some of the charges you might consider seeking expungement for if they meet the requirements.

Source: Prince William County Government, "Expungement" Nov. 02, 2014

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.
3900 University Drive, Suite 320
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-539-5825
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