What does it mean to have my criminal record expunged?
Having a criminal record can haunt you long after paying your price to society. With something as simple as a DUI on your record, you might have a difficult time renting property, owning a firearm, participating in the electoral process or even getting work. Fortunately, you can offset the issue by expunging your record.
Basically, expungement is the legal process of petitioning the court to seal or hide your record (an arrest and/or a conviction) from the public. This means that when someone like a potential employer or landlord runs a background check on you, they will not access this record.
Understanding the effects of expungement
An expungement cleans your record. However, both the court and law enforcement can still access your criminal record. Thus, should you find yourself on the wrong side of the law again (say a second DUI arrest), then an expunged record can influence the court’s decision.
So why should you expunge a criminal record?
Clearly, expunging a criminal record offers a number of benefits. Here are some of them:
Employability – expunging your criminal record can eliminate barriers to employment that you would otherwise face as an ex-con. However, you may not get work with some government agencies like the military since this record will still pop up.
Your reputation – court records are generally available to the public. This means that anyone can type in basic information like your name and address and find out about your previous run-ins with the law. Certainly, this can impact your personal friendships, relationships and reputation in your community.
Protecting your rights
Everyone deserves a second chance in life. Unfortunately, a criminal record can result in difficult consequences down the road. Familiarising yourself with Virginia’s expungement laws can help keep your unpleasant past from public view.