Virginia Expungement Lawyer
Obtaining an expungement is simple in some jurisdictions and automatic in some others, but in Virginia, the situation is different. The process can be difficult and because it requires filing a petition in circuit court, many applicants find it helpful to work with a Virginia expungement lawyer who can advise them as to whether they may qualify for an expungement and who will advocate appropriately on their behalf to help achieve the desired outcome. Call and schedule an appointment with a seasoned criminal defense attorney to begin discussing your potential legal options.
An Expungement Hides a Record but Does not Erase It
Before applying for an expungement, it is important to understand what this action does and does not do. In Virginia, an expungement will seal court records of an arrest for criminal charges and remove these records from public view. However, an expungement does not erase all records of the applicable criminal charges. Instead, a court can grant permission for certain parties, such as law enforcement officials, to view the records even after an expungement.
Other private companies may hold records related to cases that were expunged, but you can also work with those same companies to ensure that your records are hidden from background checks going forward.
The Qualifications for Expungement Are Strictly Interpreted
The most important qualification for expungement is that it is only available in situations where a person has either not been convicted of the criminal offense charged or has received an absolute pardon for being convicted of an offense not committed, but not all cases are eligible for an expungement.
Under section 19.2-392.2. of the Virginia code, individuals may seek to have police and court records expunged in the following circumstances:
- When someone has been acquitted by a judge or jury (after pleading “not guilty”)
- When someone charged with contempt of court in a civil action is determined not to not be guilty
- In a nolle prosequi situation when the government decides not to prosecute the charges
- When a case is otherwise dismissed including situations where a party injured by an assault or other misdemeanor reports that they have “received satisfaction for the injury” (commonly referred to as an “accord and satisfaction”)
- In an identity theft situation where a person’s name has been appropriated by another charged with a crime
- When someone convicted of a crime receives an absolute pardon
In other situations, even if an expungement would be helpful, judges generally do not have the authority to grant expungement unless the circumstances fit one of the statutory categories.
The Process of Obtaining an Expungement Requires Court Action
As a Virginia expungement lawyer could explain, someone who fits the description above seeks to have the record of the arrest and court proceedings expunged from the records, that party must file a petition in the circuit court of the jurisdiction where the charged were filed.
The forms necessary for filing are available from the court and the use of an attorney is not necessarily required, but because the court is unable to provide advice as to the procedures to follow in the court action, applicants often prefer to work with an attorney to help ensure a successful outcome. It may also be necessary to provide some evidence to the court, and an experienced attorney can often make that much simpler with this type of petition.
If the applicant has no additional charges on the record and the offense involved is a misdemeanor, it may be a simple matter for the judge to agree to the expungement. But in cases where there are multiple charges or the offense involved is a felony, the applicant may have to demonstrate that it would be a “manifest injustice” to allow the records to remain available to the public. In these cases, it is typically easier to hvae an attorney discuss your situation and explain the evidence the court is going to need to see to grant the expungement petition.
Consulting a Virginia Expungement Attorney for More Information
In some situations, it can be difficult to determine whether an individual qualifies for expungement. For instance, if a case was dismissed, it is often necessary to understand why the dismissal occurred to ascertain whether the person charged may have the record expunged. An experienced Virginia expungement lawyer can provide a case evaluation and advocate on behalf of parties seeking expungement to help obtain the goal expediently.