The state maintains a record of your arrests and of any charges that they bring against you. Those records can limit your choices in life.
A criminal record can make employers think twice about hiring you or promoting you to a better position. A landlord may set your application aside, while the admissions committee or scholarship board at a college may choose someone else once they realize one candidate has a criminal record.
Expungement involves the state making the records of your charges and arrests hidden so that only a few people can access them in a specific set of circumstances. When can you potentially expunge your criminal record in Virginia?
Although the law will soon change, it is currently quite strict
Virginia is set to integrate a new approach to expungement into its criminal law, but it will still be several years before that change fully takes effect. Eventually, far more records will be eligible for expungement, including Class 5 and 6 felonies, misdemeanors and dismissals.
In the meantime, expungement is only available to a limited number of individuals. Those who did not plead guilty and did not get convicted are the only ones who can ask the court to seal or expunge their records at this time.
The process will typically require legal support and will take several months, but it can make it so that public searches will no longer return evidence of your arrest or the charges initially brought against you that did not lead to a conviction.
Given that even an arrest might change someone’s opinion about you, an expungement can be a powerful tool for moving on from your life after having already dealt with the stress of an arrest and criminal charges. Learning more about the expungement process could help to put your mind at ease.