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Is an expunged record actually gone?

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2024 | Expungement

If you have a criminal record in Virginia, you may have the option to have that record expunged. You have to send a petition to the court, and there is no guarantee that it will be granted. But the court can decide to expunge that record, and they may do so in situations where it is holding you back in significant ways – such as preventing you from finding employment, going to college or finding a place to live.

Often, people believe that an expunged record has been erased or deleted. They are happy because they no longer have a permanent record that affects all these other areas of their life. But is that actually what happens?

The record is sealed

No, expungement does not mean that the record is erased. Generally, it just means that that record is sealed. It still exists, and the court could theoretically release it to certain individuals. For example, if police officers are conducting an investigation in the future, they may ask to view that criminal record, and they still can even though it has been expunged.

The benefit to you, however, comes when you’re not dealing with the authorities. Technically, the court system or the police department could still see your record, but it’s not going to show up on a background check. If you’re trying to land a new job or putting in an application for an apartment, and that person runs a background check, they will see that you have a clear record.

As noted above, not everyone who requests expungement has success, so it’s crucial that you understand exactly what legal steps you should take at this time.