How to Clear a Criminal Record in Virginia

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 15-Sep-2015

Having a criminal record can make a lot of things difficult that you might have taken for granted. For example, getting hired at a new job, working in certain fields, purchasing a gun or rifle, or simply getting approved for an apartment or a rental property can become exceedingly difficult once a background check reveals that you have a criminal history.

Under certain circumstances, a person may be able to have their record sealed so the general public cannot see it. Though Virginia’s laws regarding expungements are restrictive, if one qualifies, it can make their life a lot easier and it’s worth the effort.

What is an expungement?

At one time, the terms expungement and record sealing referred to different procedures that yielded similar results. An expungement physically destroyed a person’s records, rendering them inaccessible, while sealing meant that the public, such as landlords and employers running background checks couldn’t see the records. But, the records were still accessible to law enforcement agencies for specific purposes.

Nowadays, this distinction has blurred and both terms generally refer to sealing criminal records without physically destroying them.

Under Sec. 19.2-392.2, a defendant may petition the court to have their records expunged under the following circumstances:

  • The defendant was acquitted of the crime.
  • The criminal charges were dismissed.
  • Someone else committed the crime, using the suspect’s name.

If a person has been convicted of a crime, they usually cannot get their conviction expunged. If you were convicted and it was later overturned, you must receive an absolute pardon before you petition for an expungement.

As far as juveniles are concerned, the state automatically expunges records on an annual basis, with the exception of felony and motor vehicle convictions. If you’re a juvenile, your records would be eligible for expungement at the next scheduled date following your 19th birthday. On the other hand, motor vehicle violations are expunged after your 29th birthday.

Searching for a Richmond criminal defense attorney?

If you’re interested in learning more about clearing your criminal record, contact our office to speak with a Richmond criminal defense lawyer. At Carlson & Collier, we have over 75 Years of collective legal experience and have successfully resolved thousands of cases. Call today, we’re available 24/7 to take your call!

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