Expungement or record-sealing actions allow those who have faced arrest or criminal prosecution to move on with their lives. Until recently, Virginia had incredibly restrictive rules regarding expungements. Only a tiny handful of those involved with the criminal justice system would even qualify for an expungement.
That has changed recently. Virginia has adopted new statutes on expungements that make them more accessible and useful. In fact, Virginia’s expungement statute goes further than similar statutes in other states.
How Virginia’s new law helps protect people
Expungement is largely handled on a state-by-state basis, which means the rules are different everywhere. Some employers try to avoid that interstate confusion by hiring third-party security companies or background check companies to help them verify the criminal record of prospective workers.
Some of these companies have a reputation for inappropriately strident internal policies. They may record someone as having a felony because they plead guilty to a misdemeanor when facing a felony charge, for example. These companies may also retain the records even after they are no longer available from the state. Even those who undergo expungement run the risk of lost opportunities due to private companies maintaining their own records about criminal convictions.
For people with offenses in Virginia, those risks will be minimal in the future. The law requires that private companies also expunge records to align with state records. Companies will now need to respect expungement orders and remove private information about criminal records and arrests to match what the state reports.
Understanding how Virginia has expungement laws have changed might help you see the value in sealing your criminal record.